Family, friends and the community said goodbye Friday morning to a World War II soldier whose remains were recently identified.
A Palm Beach County soldier was laid to rest more than 70 years after he died in Saipan during World War II.
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Sitting among the tombstones at Woodlawn Cemetery Friday morning, Clyde Dickens is waiting for a friend.
“I lived near Tiny back when we were going to Palm Beach High School,” he says. “Tiny was a real nice guy, you couldn't help but like the son of a gun.”
It was a reunion he didn't want to miss.
"When we heard he was going to be buried here, we couldn't wait to get here.”
So much so, he came more than an hour early.
Richard 'Tiny' Sowell's road back to West Palm Beach wasn't a conventional one.
Killed in action in WWII, his remains were located with no ID.
A positive DNA match from his nephew Lewis Sowell Jr. decades later changed that.
Wednesday, his remains were flown into Palm Beach International.
Friday, 73 years later, Lewis received the folded flag his uncle fought for…and ultimately died for.
“He's here, he's where I'll be one day, all of my family is here” Lewis says. “He's home.”
With tears swelling up in his eyes, Dickens and others at Woodlawn said both hello and goodbye.
“He was a real good buddy I'll tell you that.”
All of it reminded Dickens of the finality death can bring.
“It's very emotional to think about how you grew up with one another, and all of a sudden they're all gone.”
He’s also relieved by the closure it has brought him and others, as the wait for his friend is finally over.
“He's found a home now,” Dickens says. “And he can live forever.”
The remains of Richard "Tiny" Sowell arrived at Palm Beach International Airport on Wednesday.
A mortar killed Sowell, a Palm Beach High graduate, in 19-44 while he was stationed in the Pacific Ocean theater.
DNA technology was used to identify him.
Sowell was laid to rest with full military honors at Woodlawn Cemetery in West Palm Beach.
NEW: Home after 73 years, WWII hero 'Tiny' Sowell to be buried with military honors at 11 a.m. at Woodlawn Cemetery in West Palm Beach. Public welcome. https://t.co/rREYP0t9tW pic.twitter.com/sWusuENMca— Eliot Kleinberg (@eliotkpbp) November 10, 2017
NEW: Home after 73 years, WWII hero 'Tiny' Sowell to be buried with military honors at 11 a.m. at Woodlawn Cemetery in West Palm Beach. Public welcome. https://t.co/rREYP0t9tW pic.twitter.com/sWusuENMca