DIAMOND, Mo. – The remains of a local World War II sailor return home after 76 years of going unidentified.
He died at the age of 24 on Pearl Harbor. He served on the USS Oklahoma and was later listed as killed in action. But Seaman First Class Clifford George Goodwin of Diamond went unidentified and was buried in a casket with other unknown soldiers. Until today, when he returned home to Southwest Missouri for good.
“This hero he gave his life December 7th on the USS Oklahoma, so it’s the very least we can do to get him back home,” says Michael Smith.
His remains were originally buried in a casket with other unknown sailors at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Forensic science and matching DNA analysis requested by his niece helped finally identify him.
“We kind of had a feeling we would hear back and it’d be coming. And we already had been talking about where we would put him and bury him,” says Mary Putnam.
Friday, he was escorted home by Patriot Guard Riders from Tulsa Airport.
“It’s a very big honor for all of us. And it just, there’s no rewards for it. We cry like they do,” says Tommy Johnson.
On the tarmac, a slew of family members greeted him for the first time in more than seven decades.
“We’ve been waiting,” says Mary Putnam.
And Saturday, they’ll lay him to rest in his hometown of Diamond with full military honors.
“Biggest thing is just to make sure that he knows he’s home,” says Tommy Johnson.
“The service tomorrow will be more of a celebration of his life. And I don’t think it’s going to be very quiet in that church,” says Mary Putnam.
A funeral service for Goodwin will be held tomorrow at the First Baptist Church of Diamond at 11 am. More than 60 of his family members plan to attend and the public is welcome.