Members of a Joliet Veterans of Foreign Wars post want to honor one of their recently identified fallen "comrades" as he is laid to rest Saturday at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.
Terri Mutz, the manager of Stone City VFW Post 2199, said the post wants to provide World War II Marine Corps Tech Sgt. Harry Carlsen of Brookfield the "honor and dignity" he deserves as he returns home, 75 years after being buried in Hawaii as an unknown serviceman.
Mutz said Post Cmdr. Kevin Pomykala, a Gulf War veteran, pitched her the idea, and members wanted to respect a fallen comrade who was finally identified. Pomykala had seen Carlsen's story in The Herald-News earlier this week.
“I love doing stuff for the vets. If it wasn’t for them we might not be here today,” Mutz said.
The doors of the VFW, located at 124 Stone City Dr. in Joliet, will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Mutz said, and coffee, donuts and American flags will be available for anyone who wants to assist post members in lining Route 53 as Carlsen's funeral procession passes by.
Attendees will likely migrate to Route 53 between 10:15 and 10:30 a.m., Mutz said.
Carlsen's burial is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Elwood cemetery.
Carlsen's great nephew, Ed Spellman, joined other relatives and veterans at O'Hare International Airport Wednesday to meet the casket. Spellman said he received a phone call in July, saying his great-uncle's body had been identified.
He said his mother donated DNA in 2008 for the identification, but she died in 2012. Carlsen was 31 when he was killed while storming a Japanese stronghold in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands.
•The Associated Press contributed to this report