Private Emmett Leonard Kines (US Marine Corps)



Private Emmett Leonard Kines (US Marine Corps) perished on the first day of the battle on 20 November 1943 in the Battle of Tarawa (Pacific Theater of WWII). The military determined that his remains were not recoverable after the war until 2015 when History Flight notified the Dept of Defense that a group burial had been located. Last year, the remains of 35 Marines killed in that battle were located and the identification process began. Through DNA testing, Private Kines was identified and his journey home began.














On Friday, 16 Sept 2016, I had the honor of escorting Private Emmett Leonard Kines home to Grafton, West Virginia. The Patriot Guard Riders met in Pittsburgh by the airport to await his arrival. After brief military honors at the airport, we escorted the hearse and Marine Honor Guard down I-79 and Rt 219 to Grafton WV, a distance of about 120 miles.

This is the third veteran I have had the honor of escorting from Pittsburgh airport back home to West Virginia - earlier escorting a WWII airman and Korean War soldier who were previously missing and recently found and identified. Each time, it is a very moving experience. It is a great relief for the surviving families to see their loved ones return home.

It is a great reminder of the price paid for the freedoms we too often take for granted.





Patriot Guard Riders gathering near the Pittsburgh Airport. Most are military veterans.






The plane has arrived with Private Kines. Time to head over to the airport.





Patriot Guard banner on one of the bikes.





At the airport waiting for the hearse and Marine Corps Honor Guard to depart.






From the airport, we led the hearse and Honor Guard down I-79.

Here, you can see the Patriot Guard Riders, the Honor Guard, and the hearse with Private Kines.

Except for the few minutes that I rode ahead to get ready for this (and the next) photos,

 I was riding behind the hearse with my neon yellow vest to prevent tailgaters.

(Yes, there are idiots who will tailgate hearses!)






After 73 years, Welcome Home to West Virginia, Private Kines!!






At the I-79 Welcome Center, we met with the WV State Police, who would escort us down Rt 119 from Morgantown to Grafton.






Just by coincidence, WV State Trooper Garrison was escorting us today.

He also escorted my father's funeral from Clarksburg to the WV National Cemetery in Grafton back in February.

A true professional and gentleman.






We also added some West Virginia Patriot Guard Riders to the procession at this point.






The Marine Corps Honor Guard was a truly professional group of young men.

After a brief rest stop, we proceeded down Rt 119 from Morgantown to Grafton. In Grafton, police had every intersection blocked for us. Many people lined the streets of downtown to pay respects. Very touching.





Once we reached the funeral home in Grafton, the Patriot Guard Riders

 and the Marine Corps Honor Guard set up for receiving Private Kines.






Flag line is ready. Honor Guard is ready.

Private Kines' nephew is standing to the right in the plain black vest.





With everyone at attention and rendering honors,

Private Kines is taken inside where his sister is waiting (as she has for 73 years).






Welcome home!

The funeral will be Monday, 19 Sept 2016 at noon at the Grafton WV National Cemetery, located on Rt 50 near Pruntytown just west of Grafton. I will be dusting off my US Air Force dress blues for only the 3rd time since retiring in 2004.





Monday - 19 Sept 2016


 Funeral At West Virginia National Cemetery at Grafton

Monday 19 Sept 2016 was a beautiful day. The rain clouds parted to allow a very nice outdoor ceremony involving Marine Corps Honor Guard, Marine and Navy Chaplains and Officers, Lewis County VFW Honor Guard, Patriot Guard Riders, State Dignitaries, and hundreds of people showing their respect and recognition to Private Emmett Leonard Kines for his heroic actions and sacrifice.



At 1145, Private Kines was brought out to the hearse for the final leg of his journey home.

The West Virginia National Cemetery is just a couple of miles west on Rt 50.
Hundreds were gathered at the Funeral Home to join in the procession.





Starting out from the funeral home to the cemetery.

Leading the procession were two police vehicles, the Patriot Guard Riders, immediate family, the hearse, then about 100 cars.






The procession grows. Great to see this show of support and thanks from the community.






At the cemetery, it was quite impressive to see the Honor Guards (USMC and VFW) as well as the Patriot Guard flag line.






Private Kines is brought from the hearse to the Committal Shelter for the service.












Nice tribute from the VFW Honor Guard.





The ceremony was quite solemn.





Private Kines' sister spoke at the service. She had many funny stories about Pvt Kines as a kid.

Very nice lady. I spoke with her after escorting Pvt Kines from Pittsburgh on Friday,
and she was very grateful to all of the people involved and was glad to have him home.






The Patriot Guard Riders presented a memorial plaque to Pvt Kines' sister.





Before folding the flag, the VFW Honor Guard rendered the 21-gun salute and taps.





Near the end of the service, the Marine Corps Honor Guard prepared to fold to fold the flag.






The Marine Corps Honor Guard folded the flag that had covered Pvt Kines' casket and presented it to his sister.






Afterwards, people waited patiently for the hearse and family to leave the Committal Shelter area.

The double-row line of cars stretched for hundreds of yards up the hill to my right.



Very emotional - sad for his loss but at the same time very happy to see Pvt Kines finally home after 73 years.


Thank you, Private Kines, for your sacrifice to defend our freedoms.

We will always be thankful.



For anyone interested in reading about the Battle of Tarawa -

Nice video posted by the Morgantown Dominion Post:




WBOY News Video:




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