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Local Patriot Guard riders to help escort Marine’s remains

Marine Pfc. James S. Smith, 19, of Liberty, will be returned to his hometown after being unaccounted for by Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency for nearly 73 years.

Smith’s body will land at the Jackson-Evers International Airport Saturday at 10:15 a.m. After he is given planeside honors, Smith and his family will be escorted by Patriot Guard Riders from across the state to Brown Funeral Home in Liberty.

Local Patriot Guard Rider Derrall Foster said he and several other riders will participate in the escort that will come down I-55 past Brookhaven.

“I expect we will go by Brookhaven between noon and 1 p.m.,” he said. “I just thought someone local might want to see the escort as it goes by.”

Funeral services for Smith are Monday at 11 a.m. at the funeral home with burial in the Liberty Cemetery.

Visitation is from 9 a.m. until time of services Monday. The Patriot Guard Riders will provide a silent United States flag line during the visitation and graveside service.

Smith was assigned to Company C, 2nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion, 2nd Marine Division in November 1943. It is speculated that he died sometime Nov. 20, 1943, during the battle on the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands.

The DPAA recently announced Smith’s remains had been identified using circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.