Remains of fallen WWII Hoosier finally come home to Indiana

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RICHMOND, Ind. — A Hoosier Marine who died in World War II is finally home to rest in Indiana.

The remains of Louis Wiesehan were supposed to return in April, but the pandemic slowed the arrival of the fallen Marine who died fighting on the island of Betio in November 1943.

His remains were buried on the island, only to be discovered in 2015. It was just recently that DNA analysis was able to identify him. Thursday night, a procession carried Wiesehan’s remains from Indianapolis International Airport to his hometown of Richmond.

“When you see that coming off of the airplane, it just takes your breath away to know that that’s your loved one that’s been missing for 77 years,” said Louis’s great-niece Kimberly Gardner while standing on the tarmac. “Emotions are running very high right now.”

“My grandpa kept a whole book of all the things. He took pictures of Normandy when he was there, and he had pictures of Louis in there, he was like, ‘That’s my brother, he was a U.S. Marine, and he fought and passed away, and they never got his body back,'” explained great-nephew Richard T. Wiesehan.

His procession traveled down U.S. 40 on its way to Richmond. Supporters came out in Greenfield.

“We don’t leave a brother behind. We always stand up for another brother,” said Phillip Grabnan, who served in the Marines in Vietnam and proudly flew his Marine flag outside his home as he waited for Wiesehan to pass by. “It’s always good to hear somebody say, ‘Welcome home.’”

“I don’t believe anyone should have to come home alone. We are a family so they are automatically my family,” said Lennie Watkins as he stood beside his Jeep. He and many others in the Indiana Outkast Jeep Club came to support Wiesehan. At least 20 Jeeps lined the roadway.

The city of Richmond plans to honor Wiesehan on Friday. There will be a special event before his funeral.

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