The remains of a fallen Westfield Marine are returned home Wednesday more than 70 years after he was killed in combat.
Captain Richard Vincent came home today for the final time.
Captain Vincent doesn't have any relatives still alive locally. Other family members are coming in from across the country for his funeral Thursday.
The remains of Captain Vincent arrived at Firtion-Adams Funeral Home in Westfield, a long way from the World War II battlefield in the south Pacific where he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
Then-Lieutenant Vincent was killed on November 20, 1943 in the battle of Tarawa. His remains were identified last October - 71 years after he was killed.
Captain Vincent is one of 514 Marines who reportedly lost their lives in combat at Tarawa.
On Wednesday, the casket carrying his remains was flown to Bradley International Airport.
Local Marines carried the casket from the tarmac and then were escorted back to Westfield by Massachusetts State Police and Western Massachusetts veterans.
"We went onto the tarmac at Bradley Airport and we met the plane at the airport and nobody exited that plane until Captain Richard Vincent was taken off the plane by the Marines at Westover Air Force Base," said James Adams with the Firtion-Adams Funeral Home.
Those military personnel who took part won't forget this day, when they brought Captain Vincent home for the final time.
"I thought this was a great honor, to pay tribute to this Marine fallen 72 years ago," said John Hurley, a U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam veteran.
"The sacrifice Captain Vincent made 72 years ago is as fresh today as any loss we've experienced to maintain our nation's freedom and we won't forget it," added Brian Willette, commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
"This was a very humbling. It was very emotional for us. This is something we don't do ever y day and we wanted to honor captain Vincent and his family by bringing him home," said Eric Segundo, Massachusetts junior vice president of the VFW.
It took 72 years, but Captain Vincent is back home in Westfield.
Family members and fellow veterans will gather here around 12:30 Thursday at the funeral home.
Burial will then take place at 1 p.m. at the Pine Hill Cemetery in Westfield, where Captain Vincent's mother and father bought a plot after their son was reported killed in action.
Captain Vincent will be buried alongside his parents.
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