Fallen WWII soldier returns to hometown of Beloit, 70 years after falling in combat

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BELOIT, Wis. (WMTV) - The remains of a fallen World War II soldier are coming home to Beloit Thursday evening, to finally be put to rest.

Robert W. McCarville in combat dress (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

U.S. Army Sergeant Robert W. McCarville was identified earlier this year, 70 years after he fell in battle.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Robert McCarville was 24-years-old in December of 1942, when he was killed in action in modern-day Papua New Guinea.

McCarville's unit, Company L, 128th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division, was unable to recover his remains at the time due to intense enemy fire.

Soon after McCarville was buried in a temporary grave, and then transferred to a cemetery on the beach at Cape Endaiadere.

The remains of an unidentified American soldier were eventually interred in the Phillipes. More than 70 years later, scientists identified the remains as McCarville, using dental and anthropological analysis.

McCarville's nephew tells NBC15 that McCarville's story was too painful for his family to talk about, until they learned the good news that the fallen hero was returning home.

“Just unbelievably excited, in a good way, that he would be able to come home like this,” says nephew Richard Ricksecker. “The effort that must've been put forward by countless people to make this happen. So happy and thrilled that we're able to do this for Robert.”

All over Wisconsin, flags at government buildings will be flown at half-staff on Saturday as a sign of respect for McCarville.

There are 72,650 service members still unaccounted for from World War II, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

His burial is scheduled for Sunday.


The procession (Michael Cullen)