Family Welcomes Home WWII Marine 73 Years After Death

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Marine Corps' motto is to ensure no one is left behind. It would take more than seven decades to make good on that promise for one Iowa Marine.

The family of Private Palmer Haraldson waited on the tarmac in Des Moines to welcome home a man they always knew about but never met.

“It's an amazing story. It's awesome. I'm happy for my mother, his sister. I'm honoring her well as I am my uncle,” explained Peggy Ellsbury.

Ellsbury was just a baby when her uncle went off to fight in World War II. The 31-year-old Marine was killed in action Nov. 22, 1943.

“My great uncle Palmer perished early in the war on a small island Tarawa. Eleven hundred American lives were lost,” said Mark Ellsbury.

Haraldson’s mom, dad, brothers and sisters never knew what happened to him. His remains weren't found until 2015 and tests later confirmed his identity.

“I hope they're all watching. Thank God. Thank God for the Marines bringing them home,” said Ellsbury as the planed touched down.

An Honor Guard was there to receive his casket draped in the American flag. The fallen Marine will be laid to rest with full military honors in Fort Dodge at the same cemetery where parents are buried.

“This is a special time for us in the Patriot Guard because we feel really honored and privileged to be here to welcome this young man home after this many years,” said Steve Cox with the Iowa Patriot Guard Riders.

About 40 riders escorted the remains of the Marine from Des Moines to Fort Dodge.

A memorial service for Haraldson is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Bruce Funeral Home.

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