The remains of Gene Blanchard, a Georgia sailor who died during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, were returned to his family late Thursday.

“I don’t think there was ever a guy who wanted to come home more,” Blanchard had written his wife eight days before the attack that killed him.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution chronicled the long journey home to family for Blanchard and how the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was finally able to identify his remains.

Blanchard grew up in tiny Tignall, Georgia, near the South Carolina state line before signing up with the U.S. Navy.

Gene and Laura Ann Blanchard had been married 18 months when Gene was killed aboard the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. Now, thanks to DNA forensics, Gene will be laid to rest in North Carolina near where his son lives. (Photo credit: Associated Press / Courtesy of the family)

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The agency flew the casket to Norfolk, Virginia, late Thursday. Bill Blanchard, Gene’s 80-year-old son, and other family waited. Bill Blanchard lives just south of Norfolk in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where Blanchard’s remains will be buried Monday.

You can see a photo gallery of the homecoming here.