Marine returns home after more than 70 years

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A member of America's greatest generation is headed back home.

Corporal Claire Goldtrap, 21, died in the Pacific during World War II. Now, his family has been able to bring his remains back home.

It was truly a special homecoming for the family, 70-plus years in the making. The remains of the marine who died in the Pacific Theater during WWII returned to his home state of Oklahoma with all the pomp and ceremony worthy of an American hero.

"It brings it all home. It just makes it real... Now, we can close a chapter, and we can bring him home and we can lay him to rest next to his mom," said JoLynn Anderson.

Claire died November 20, 1943 during the Battle of Tarawa.

The small chain of islands were important to both American and Japanese air forces. More than 1,000 Americans were killed and 2,000 wounded during the fierce fighting.

Originally, Claire was buried on the island; in 1946, the military moved the unidentified remains back to Honolulu, reburying them at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. But, in 2016, the US government disinterred the body and, using DNA and dental records, identified the remains.

On Tuesday, Claire came back home.

"It's great, it closes a chapter in my family's life," said Robert Goldtrap.

Robert is not only Claire's great nephew; he also served 10 years in the corps. He knows the story of his fellow marine.

"He was a tractor driver of an amphibious assault vehicle. He was the second tractor to land on d-day. A mortar hit right at the tractor cab, the driver's cab, which killed my great uncle instantly. We are all family; I would never leave family behind," Robert said.

Those same sentiments were heard from the current-day marine reserves on hand to escort the remains to the final resting place in Hobart.

"Once a marine, always a marine so - no matter how long it took - we make sure he got home safely. You won't be left behind," said Michael Blumenberg, staff sergent, US Marines.

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