Saturday funeral for WWII casualty from Walton Co

A Navy sailor killed 75 years ago in World War II finally returned home to be buried in Monroe.

Seaman Deward Duncan was killed in action in the South Pacific in 1944 when he was just 19 years old.

The military lost track of his remains until recently.

On Thursday, Duncan's remains were flown to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

A large processional escorted the hearse to Walton County, where Duncan will be buried with full military honors on Saturday in his family's plot.

Channel 2's Kristen Holloway talked to Duncan's niece, Darlene Phillips, at the Tim Stewart Funeral Home in Monroe where Duncan is now resting.

"We are so proud he could be honored this way," Phillips said.

Phillips said she never imagined that 75 years after her uncle's death, the Navy would call and say they found his remains at a burial site on Gilbert Island in the South Pacific.

"I was shocked. Very shocked," Phillips said. "It was very surreal. It wasn't really real to me until they actually sent the Navy to the house"

hillips said the Navy also found letters that Duncan wrote to his mother.

"He wanted his mother and the family to know how much he loved her," Phillips said.

Phillips showed Holloway pictures of her uncle in uniform and even a shot of him as a baby.

"He's finally home, where he's supposed to be, where his mother wanted him to be," she said. "She wanted him to be buried beside her.

Phillips said she's grateful for everyone who made the day special. Firefighters and law enforcement officers lined up on bridges Thursday to pay their respects as Duncan's hearse made it's way to Monroe.

"Why whole thing was about him getting the honor and respect that he deserves for sacrificing his life for our country," Phillips said.

Visitation for Duncan is Friday from 5 - 8 p.m. at the funeral home. A graveside service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Rest Haven Cemetery. Both are open to the public.

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