Six hundred American flags lined the streets of Lewisport, Kentucky Thursday for the homecoming of a long-lost American hero, nearly 80 years in the making.
World War II Navy Fireman 2nd Class Martin Young was onboard the USS Oklahoma when he was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In October 1949 his remains were classified as unrecoverable, but last year his family got the news that they had finally been identified.
For the past six months, The Flagman's Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization that aims to honor the lives, service and sacrifices of men and women in uniform, worked with Young's family to ensure he got the proper welcome home.
“Patriotism, joy," said Jeff Hastings, CEO of The Flagman's Mission. "I’m humbled to be here to be able to be a part of a historical moment that we’re about to see in a few days when we’re able to bring a young soldier home to rest in his hometown.”
The organization rallied people from all over the Tri-Sate to help place the 600 flags just hours before Young's remains arrived in town.
"I got cold chills. I saluted their sailor," said Danny Conner, a former servicemember who traveled from Tell City, Indiana, to take part in the special day. "I hadn’t heard about anything like this closer to home, so to me, it’s just an honor to be here.”
Young's entourage first landed in Louisville before the Rolling Thunder motorcade escorted the remains and Young's family down Hwy 60 through Young's hometown of Hawesville, then to 4th street in Lewisport and then to Gibson and Son Funeral Home on Caroline Street.
For those bringing him home, it may have been the 12th motorcade they led, but the emotion weighed heavy from start to finish.
“They never get old, they’re all unique in their own way, they’re all very special," said Todd Matonich with Rolling Thunder. “To come home to this and to be able to bring him home to this -- I know he was smiling, I know he was watching down above us. The goosebumps and all -- I know he was there.”
It’s was a profound and momentous day the community will cherish for generations to come.
"The family is so excited," Hastings said. "They're thrilled that their community cares.”
Petty Officer Young’s funeral will take place at noon Saturday at the Gibson and Son Funeral Home located at 315 Caroline Street in Lewisport. Visitation will begin at 10 am.
After the funeral service concludes, the community is encouraged to line the escort route to the cemetery.
The American flags will continue to fly in Young's honor until Sunday. Volunteers are invited to help take them down so organizers with The Flagman's Mission Continues can reuse them for future services ad repatriations.