Remains of sailor killed in World War II returned after 75 years

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HAMILTON, Ohio -- Pharmacist's Mate 2nd Class Thomas Jesse Murphy was killed in action in 1943 during World War II. 

It took 75 years for his remains to be returned home.

Murphy was just 22 when he was killed during the Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific theater, according to his obituary. Due to the large number of casualties, Murphy and many others were buried in hasty mass graves and not accounted for.

His remains were finally identified last October. Murphy's niece, Chantel Oliver, remembers the phone call.

"Are these people for real? How do you know this is not fake? How do you know this is really happening? Then when I saw the Navy in my sister's living room, I realized this was happening," she recalled.

A procession carried Murphy's remains from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport up to Hamilton Friday. 

"It's about Uncle Tommy," Oliver said. "Giving him his due."

Murphy was buried Monday in Greenwood Cemetery, next to his family members.

"We have closure now that we have his remains brought back and laid to rest next to my grandfather," Oliver said.

Barbara Holland with the group Honor and Remember knows what it's like to wait. Her Uncle Bobby was also killed in action 73 years ago, and still hasn't been returned home. The group was out to help give Murphy a hero's welcome home.

"We honor the family members who have lost someone," Holland said. "We want to make sure they're remembered."