- Associated Press - Sunday, May 3, 2015

WATSEKA, Ill. (AP) - The remains of an eastern Illinois man will be laid to rest this month in his hometown cemetery - more than 70 years after he was killed on a tiny spit of land in the Pacific Ocean during World War II.

The (Kankakee) Daily Journal (https://bit.ly/1zGiWcj ) reports that the planned funeral of Jack Redman of Watseka follows the recent discovery of the Marine’s skeletal remains and dog tags on the atoll of Tarawa, in the central part of the Pacific Ocean, where he died in a 1943 battle.

For 86-year-old Merrill Redman, the return of his older brother’s remains ends decades of pressing authorities for information and hoping that the DNA he provided would someday match that of discovered remains. It is the last chapter in a story that began when he was a 13-year-old boy accepting the Western Union telegram that told the family that his brother had been killed in 1943 on an atoll near Australia.

“It was a relief when I got the call,” he said Sunday morning during a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Redman said his brother was 19 years old when he took a train from Watseka to Chicago to enlist in the Marines. After the telegram arrived, his mother received a telephone call, asking her about what she wanted done with her dead son’s remains.

“She was too distraught to think straight, and she said to just leave him buried there,” he said. “Two weeks later, she called back and said she changed her mind. She wanted his body shipped home.”

That began a 70-year search for a body that included a photograph of his grave near the end of a plane runway the Marines had fought to control, and a story that the body had been moved to another makeshift cemetery. Though the search did not lead to the remains for decades, the family did learn of the circumstances surrounding his death.

“We eventually heard from guys who served with Jack,” he said. “They told us he saved the lives of five of his buddies (and) he was trying to bring in an injured man when he was shot.”

Ultimately, though, after chance comments by a Tarawa native, the remains of Jack Redman were discovered last fall. He will be buried with full military honors.

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