OCEANO, Calif. - A marine killed in World War II is finally coming home. George Murray's remains were a mystery for years until his family teamed up with the Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency to match a family member's DNA to that of the marine.
It’s a hero’s homecoming more than 70 years in the making.
"He’s been gone for 74 years now he’s coming home,” said George Winslett, Murray's nephew. Winslett said he knew about his uncle through stories and pictures. "I was named after him, George Bernard was his name, so it’s kind of an honor,” he said.
The then 20-year-old marine went off to fight in World War II and after he was killed his family never thought they would see this moment.
"June 6 they called and said we found your uncle, they found him,” said Winslett overcome with emotion. He said bringing his uncle back home to Oceano where he lived means so much to him and his family.
"My grandmother never gave up until the day she died, my mother and aunt were the same way,” he recalled.
Private First Class George Murray was killed in 1943. He died during the Battle of Tarawa while fighting the Japanese on the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific. For years it was a mystery where his body was resting.
"He was on the island of Tarawa, he was moved about three times, to three graves,” Winslett said. He noted that his family now has some closure.
"We are grateful, grateful for him and all the boys,” added Linda Austin, with the Oceano Depot Railroad Museum.
Murray will be laid in his final resting place next to where his mother is buried.
For people who want to pay their respects, a procession for George Murray will take place on Friday, August 18, 2017 starting at 10 a.m. It will start at at the Marshall-Spoo Funeral Home in Oceano and will go through the city.