A WWII soldier died in 1944. Now he’s finally home in Georgia.

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A WWII soldier died in 1944. Now he’s finally home in Georgia.

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Chad Rhym/AJC
Lieutenant Robert Eugene Oxford, 24, of Concord, died Jan. 25, 1944, when his plane crashed during a cargo flight over the Himalayan mountains. His remains returned home Thursday. Members of the Patriot Guard carry Oxford's casket into the hearse at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

On Thursday, the remains of World War II veteran 1st Lt. Robert Eugene Oxford arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

It had been 73 years since the Georgia farm boy and guitar picker died in service at age 24. He was the victim of a mysterious plane crash in the Himalayas, along with seven fellow U.S. Army Air Corps members.

For the Pike County native’s remains to be rescued from the remote ravine in India, people around the world who had never met him had to care.

The founder of MIA Recoveries, which works to find WWII plane crash sites in the Himalayas, trekked three days from a village to find Oxford’s flight in 2006.

Merrill Roan, Oxford’s nephew’s wife, said the family had to “raise Cain” for a decade to get the U.S. government to go excavate the site.

On Thursday, she looked on somberly in a hangar at the airport as a worker wheeled the casket past an honor guard.

“I didn’t think I’d be this emotional,” she said, “because I didn’t know him.”

Read more about Oxford’s emotional return and the countless efforts it took from people who amounted to utter strangers here on myAJC.com.

Read and sign an online guestbook for Robert Oxford, who will be buried in Concord, Ga.

Watch: another Georgia soldier remembered for his service

Army specialist and dad Etienne Murphy, was killed in a Northern Syria rollover crash last week.
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