West Virginia native Emmett L. Kines was killed in action during World War II and buried in a mass grave after the bloody Battle of Tarawa in November 1943. Kines’ family was told that his remains were not recoverable, and they sadly accepted his loss without a funeral.
Recently, a Florida-based non-profit organization called History Flight traveled to the battle location to locate and bring home the remains of thousands of soldiers. The group was able to locate Kines and return him to his only living sibling, a 90-year-old sister, and other family members.
Escorted into his hometown by the military and local police officers, his flag-draped coffin was taken to a funeral home where his sister hugged it and cried over the brother she had last seen 75 years earlier. Kines was later buried with full honors.
History Flight has been bringing home soldiers who were reported MIA or KIA for the last 13 years. The organization sees the acts as a way of restoring small parts of America and adding a positive impact to communities that are finally able to mourn their dead. Most of all, bringing the men home gives dignity to the lives that were so sadly lost.