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Remains of Pearl Harbor Sailor arrive in Fargo to a Hero's welcome.

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FARGO—This weekend in Fessenden, North Dakota the town is shutting down.

The high school gym, Saturday, will open its doors, so the community can finally say goodbye to one of its own.

World War II Hero Arthur Neuenschwander died during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

On board the USS Oklahoma.

Because of improved DNA testing, his remains were just recently identified.

Veterans groups from all eras gathered, waiting for the plane to arrive.

Young sailors, and men who served in wars where there was no homecoming, even for the fallen. At Hector Airport, honor guards joined family.

"Humbling, honored." nephew John Neuenschwander says.

It would be a night nobody here would forget.

"We are proud of this moment, you know." Terry Richardson of United Patriotic Bodies tells us.

It was fitting that a stormy day turned into a beautiful prairie night, what a way for North Dakota to welcome home one of its own. One of her best.

When a full Delta Flight 2118 landed in Fargo , dozens stood by waiting on the tarmac.

The beauty of it, nearly all of them had never met Arthur Neuenschwander of Fessenden.

It didn't matter.

He died at Pearl Harbor, fighting for our country.

The passengers on board that Delta flight stayed, they and Arthur's family watched as a flag draped casket came out of the belly of the plane.

A Navy honor guard carefully escorted Arthur's remains from the plan and his past his surviving relatives.

One last salute.

"That was impressive. Flag draped over it, the way he was handled. First class." says nephew Ross Johnson.

Arthur left behind nieces, nephews and young relatives who only have heard about Uncle Arthur. Thursday night, they welcomed home family.

"For our armed forces to never give up and finding him and bringing everybody home. Unbelievable." says great nephew Keith Johnson.

A hometown hero, never forgotten.

Never left behind.

"Heard the stories, and knew what he was a part of but the minute the casket turned and came out, I got goosebumps. It was a real moment." says great nephew Adam Johnson.

Imagine the pride.

A heartfelt welcome home for Uncle Arthur.

Some touched his casket while others simply hugged each other.

75 years after that December Day, a family reunion; a summer homecoming.

One of the surprises for Arthur's family came at Hector airport, when a Moorhead man showed up to greet them.

Mike Carney, in the green cap, shared with them that his Uncle Jalmer Skjaret knew Arthur and served with him at Pearl Harbor on the USS Oklahoma.

Jalmer was able to swim through oil and fire, to escape from the sinking ship that day.

Years later, he would write the Neuenschwander family in Fessenden to tell them about Arthur's heroic actions before he died at Pearl Harbor.

Jalmer went on to be a US Navy Commander.

He still has several family members living in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia and the Middle East. He is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

(701) 241-5317
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