NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After 78 years, a World War II veteran and U.S. marine is finally being laid to rest in his hometown of Nashville.

This weekend, the family of corporal William R. Ragsdale is finally holding a funeral after his body was returned home from the Philippines.

News 2 spoke to his nephew, Jack Waggener, who said it was through his DNA that allowed the special return home to happen.

“About three months ago now I got a call from the marines that said, ‘We have good news, we have found your uncle,’” Jack Waggener said.

Waggener and a dozen or so family members stood on the airport tarmac Thursday as the body of Corporal Ragsdale was returned back to his hometown.

Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. William R. Ragsdale (Photo: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

“It’s a modern-day miracle and I was overwhelmed with the prospects of this even happening,” Waggener said.  

A miracle after Corporal Ragsdale served in the Pacific Ocean Island of Saipan during WWII.

His nephew, Jack, was born two months after his family received a telegram that Corporal Ragsdale was “missing in action,” later finding out he would never return home.

“The family grieved very deeply, he was the favorite brother and son. They didn’t talk much about Billy because it hurt them,” Waggener said.

However, he said his uncle Billy’s wife, Elouise, kept his memory alive, keeping a scrapbook about Billy and other memorabilia all over the room where his family is finally having a proper funeral.

He said this painful part of their family history is finally bringing them some closure

“The fact that he’s home I can assure you brings closure to me,” Jack Waggener said.