Marine killed in WWII laid to rest in Marion cemetery

(U.S. Air Force Photo/Master Sgt. Ben Mota)

MARION, Ind. (WTHR) - A Marine from Indiana was finally laid to rest Thursday, more than 75 years after he was killed in World War II.

Marine Pvt. Fred Freet received military honors during his funeral at the Marion National Cemetery. A Marine Corps honor guard from Grissom Air Force Base served at Freet's service, which was attended by family members who only knew the Marine by his photograph.

Freet was killed in fighting on the island of Betio in the Gilbert Islands on November 20, 1943. His remains were positively identified last August.

Marines Pvt. Fred Freet (Family photo)

“From day one we teach Marines to never leave another Marine behind, so to be part of the process of returning him to his family after all these years is a huge honor,” Capt. Pierce Virag said.

Virag presented the U.S. flag that draped Freet's casket to the Marine's half-brother Roger Covey after a 21-gun salute.

“It took nearly 76 years, but a member of our greatest generation is home,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. “We must never forget the heroes from our past and do our best to honor them at every opportunity.”

Freet, who was just 18 years old when he died, was honored posthumously with the Purple Heart for wounds he suffered in action that led to his death, as well as the Combat Action Ribbon for service during World War II, among others.

More than 8,000 veterans are buried at Marion National Cemetery.