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Remains of Ky. sailor who died at Pearl Harbor arrive in Somerset ahead of burial this weekend

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 10:13 PM EDT
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SOMERSET, Ky. (WKYT) - Nearly 80 years after he was killed in the attacks on Pearl Harbor, a Somerset sailor is finally home.

“This gentleman has been gone almost 80 years,” said Robert Jackowski.

After nearly eight decades, seaman 2nd class Floyd Helton has made the long journey home. At just 18 years old, he was killed in the attacks on Pearl Harbor. For decades his family mourned his death, but never had closure, until DNA testing positively identified Helton’s remains.

(Story continues below photo.)

After nearly eight decades, seaman 2nd class Floyd Helton has made the long journey home.
After nearly eight decades, seaman 2nd class Floyd Helton has made the long journey home.(Family of Floyd Helton)

“She was just beside herself. This is something that she had hoped for ever since they started talking about what they could possibly do with DNA,” said Vicki Easley, Helton’s niece.

Helton’s remains were flown into northern Kentucky Thursday evening and given a full escort to Somerset. Along the way, tributes were set up in his honor.

“You got people along the highway is waving flags. If they know we’re coming word gets out, and they’re waiting for them. It’s a celebration of their life,” Jackowski said.

Jackowski is with the Kentucky Chapter 5 of Rolling Thunder, a group that honors veterans, POWs and those missing in action. They escorted Helton home.

“It’s an honor and a privilege. If he was alive at the end of World War II he would have had an escort, parades, all of that. This is his now. Closure for him,” Jackowski said.

Now Helton isn’t missing anymore. He’s home, at ease. He’ll be buried next to his father on Saturday.

Earlier Thursday, the Rolling Thunder escorted another sailor home. Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Alphard S. Owsley from Bourbon County was also killed in Pearl Harbor.

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