Duluth Native And Lost Marine Laid To Rest After Nearly 75 Years
James Hubert Fought In World War II, His Remains Finally Found
A Duluth native killed more than 70 years ago in World War II finally returned home.
November 21st 1943, United States Marine Company H, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marines Division lead an amphibious assault in what is considered one of the most important battles in World War II, the battle of Tarawa.
“It had a very big significance in the island hoping campaigns and for us to begin moving towards main land Japan to win the war,” U.S. Marine Corp Lt. Colonel, Gregory Rooker said.
The Japanese considered the island of Tarawa to be impassible.
“They said it would take a million men and 100 years for the marines to take it and they took it in a matter of days,” said Rooker.
It was a battle that would take the lives of many.
James and many others would pay the ultimate sacrifice.
“He gave his life for all of us, for the freedom of our country.” Frye said
James along with dozens of other marines would remain on the island after the war in what was considered the lost cemetery.
In comes History Flight, a small nonprofit and non-governmental agency who would never give up faith in finding James.
“It’s a promise our country has made. These are my brothers in arms. Granted they died 70 years ago, but still they deserve the same honor that any one of us does,” Says John Frye, Principal Investigator of History Flight.
It was a promise that would left unfilled until 2015.
“We located James grave and did the actual recovery of James remains and returned them to the Department of Defense,” Frye said.
Nearly 75 years later and nearly a life time of hope, for James’s family, he’s finally come home.
“Never had any inkling that he might be ever found. You sort of start to presume that they’re not looking for the anymore,” James Hubert’s Nephew, Jay Hagen said.
“After that many years, it just seemed like a miracle,” Mary Kay Hagen, Hubert’s sister said.
Today we lay to rest a hero, someone who fought on the front lines for our freedom, with full military honors.
“It’s the honor he earned.” Jay says.
“It’s the highest honor for us to be here and to be able to commemorate his commitment to this great country and be able to take care of a fellow brother and lay him to rest appropriately and to make sure that his family gets closer and let them know that his service was appreciated,” Rooker says.
Today gives those who worked so hard to find him some sort of closer, knowing that their loved one is where he belongs.
“It gives me closer as well as the family because I handled each one of these individuals and pulled them out of the ground and I feel close to them as if I was fighting next to them in a fox hole like they were my brothers in arms,” Frye said.
It being a somewhat somber day, James finally receives the honor that he deserves.