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World War II Veteran's remains return home to Tennessee

ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) - Seventy-five years since U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class William Frank Cavin was declared Missing In Action, his remains returned home to Tennessee. 

Cavin was 18 years old when he was killed in the Battle of Tarawa in November 1943. At the time, he was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division on Betio Island. 

He was among 1,000 Marines and Sailors killed during the WWII battle with the Japanese. 

Now, decades later, Cavin's family, 20 members, waited on the tarmac at McGhee Tyson Airport to watch as the Delta flight carrying Cavin's remains landed in Tennessee from Hawaii. 

"This was one of the more awesome things that I've ever been a part of," said Steve Sessoms, Cavin's nephew. 

Sessoms says although he never knew his uncle, he heard stories about him from his mother and aunt, Cavin's sisters. 

"The thing that brings tears to my eyes is thinking how my mother and my aunt would've love to have seen this," said Sessoms. 

Governor Bill Haslam declared a day of mourning from sunrise to sunset on Saturday October 13, in honor of Cavin's sacrifice.

"Frank was not even 17 years old when he enlisted in the Marine Corps to serve his country," said Haslam in a statement, "This native Tennessean was clearly born with the Volunteer Spirit and we are so proud to welcome him home." 

The process of getting Cavin's remains back to his home state of Tennessee didn't happen overnight. 

After the Battle of Tarawa, service members were buried in cemeteries on the island. Then, in July 2013, History Flight Inc. found remains in the same area and turned them into the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). 

From there, the remains were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific as Tarawa Unknown X-032. 

In March 2017, four years after the remains were found, the DPAA and the Armed Forces medial Examiner System removed the remains from the ground to begin identifying them. A year later, the unidentified remains of Unknown X-032 were found to be Cavin's. 

"It's just awesome what they've done. I am so grateful of what they've done," said Sessoms. 

Cavin's remains will be buried in a ceremony surrounded by family on Saturday at the Overton Cemetary in Sneedville, Tennessee. 




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