In 1941, as the holidays approached, a Mississippi sailor stationed at Pearl Harbor wrote a letter to his family saying he was looking forward to coming home for Christmas. But Seaman First Class John Russell Melton of Liberty never made that trip. He was killed aboard the USS West Virginia when the battleship was hit by at least seven Japanese torpedoes and two armor-piercing bombs on December 7th. His remains had been buried in Hawaii with some other unidentified sailors. But they were disinterred in 2017 and sent to a lab for analysis—and his family was contacted for DNA samples which led to a positive identification. And he’ll be coming home to Mississippi on Wednesday. Melton’s remains will be flown to New Orleans and then a motorcade will head to his hometown where flags will be displayed and people are expected to line the streets to pay their respects. Saturday, a funeral with full military honors will be held for the Mississippi sailor who died at Pearl Harbor almost 81 years ago, and his homecoming will be complete. The family plans to have him buried in a church cemetery next to his parents.
On Tuesday morning’s newscasts, hear Melton’s niece talk about the long-awaited homecoming.