BELOIT - A Beloit World War II veteran finally got the homecoming he deserved after being away for over 75 years.
U.S. Army Sgt. Robert W. McCarville, 24, died in action on Dec. 5, 1942 in combat operations during an assault against Japanese positions in current day Papua, New Guinea during the Battle of Buna-Gona.
On Thursday Robert McCarville's remains were transported from Atlanta to Milwaukee and then to Beloit where he will be laid to rest next to his parents Francis and Cecilia (Terhorst) McCarville. Police officers, firefighters and a military honor guard were included in the escort of the remains as they were brought home to Beloit Thursday.
U.S. Army Brigadier General Joane Mathews is scheduled to present the family with a medal during a private ceremony on Friday.
For his service Sgt. McCarville was recognized with the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Robert McCarville's remains could not be recovered after his death and records of his identity were lost until he was accounted for on July 10.
Scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used dental and anthropological analysis to identify his remains. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.
Many family members who spoke with the Beloit Daily News said bringing their long-lost relative home was a way to find closure.
Niece and nephew Marie McCarville and Robert Ricksecker served as the two family representatives to welcome their uncle home on Thursday night at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. Robert Ricksecker, who is named after his uncle, said Robert McCarville is remembered as "a hero in the family."
"It gave me a real chill to know he was coming home," Marie McCarville said. "We never thought this would happen."
Robert McCarville's eldest living sibling is Monica Partlow, 96, of Beloit,
"I'm glad he's coming home and we're so fortunate to live in a state where all the citizens have stepped up to the plate to support him and our family," Partlow said in a statement provided to the Beloit Daily News.
Nephew Richard Ricksecker said his mother, Jane Ricksecker, Robert McCarville's sister who passed away in 2012, would be "beyond elated to have him home."
"To have him coming home in this way is no less than unbelievable," Ricksecker said. "It wasn't even on our minds as something that would be possible. It's so emotional but yet you can't express enough gratitude to the Army and the Department of Military Affairs to make this happen."
Beth Koos, Robert McCarville's niece, said bringing him home brought new meaning to his place in the family.
"It was like he was a character in the family story, but now that he was identified and is being brought home, it's like it's come full circle and he is real to us," Koos said.
Mark McCarville, a nephew to Robert McCarville, worked at Fairbanks Morse for 12 years and said he met someone who knew his uncle.
"He was part of his platoon and he told me that my uncle was a quiet guy, a nice guy and someone who read a lot," Mark McCarville said. "We all knew about our uncle growing up."
A private ceremony with full military honors will be held on Saturday for family and invited guests at Mount Thabor Cemetery. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff on Saturday to honor Sgt. Robert McCarville.