FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - After more than 70 years, a World War II Marine was finally laid to rest Monday in Florence.
The service for Marine Corps Sgt. John Charleton Holladay was held at the Florence National Cemetery.
Holladay was killed in action during battle between America and Japan in 1943. The books were closed and his body was declared undiscoverable, until 2015, when the mystery was solved.
One resident of the British Solomon Islands found the remains while digging near the battleground last year. After lab testing in Hawaii and family members submitting DNA, a match was found.
Now, Holladay's remains are no longer in foreign soil, but in his hometown. It's a place where he loved archery and the outdoors, and where his family said he belongs.
"It has been just overwhelming support from the community and just the people of South Carolina," said Jack Holladay, Sgt. John Holladay's nephew. "I can't begin to tell you the magnitude of the honor that they have shown our family for Uncle Charleton coming home."
Jack Holladay was appointed by the Marine Corps to receive the flag in his uncle's honor. He was also one of the members of the family to submit DNA.
On Monday, one generation of Marines stood side-by-side with another to honor Holloday's legacy, which has never been forgotten
"I shed some tears today but it's tears of joy because this is his homecoming," said Jack Holladay. "Our parents talked about him, never in past tense. It was always Uncle Charleton this, or Poe Boy that. Honestly, sometimes in my youth, I expected any moment this gangly, skinny guy to come through with a bow."
Cedric Jefferson, a Major with the Marine Corps, currently serves in the exact same unit Holladay was in when he lost his life. His actions seven decades earlier have been documented.
Jefferson added there was a sense of elation that Holladay had finally returned home.
"I think it's indicative of how we are as a country, and how we are as Marines and the bond that we have as a family," he said.
Sgt. Holladay would have been 104 years old on Monday, the day he was laid to rest.
His family said they now have the chance to keep him alive by visiting him at the cemetery on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and by celebrating even more birthdays.