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Fred M. Jones was buried with military honors on Saturday at Lakeside Cemetery Bob Gross, Times Herald

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PORT HURON, Mich. — Under blue skies and with birds singing in the trees, Port Huron's Fred Jones came home.

Jones, who died aboard the USS Oklahoma during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, until recently was interred in Hawaii with other unidentified casualties of the bombing. His remains were identified by the Navy and his body was brought back to Lakeside Cemetery in Port Huron for burial on Saturday

People with American flags lined the route of the funeral procession along the St. Clair River. A large crowd gathered at the cemetery to pay their respects as Jones was buried with military honors.

Helen Kellie Cosner is Jones' granddaughter. She came from Seattle — where Jones' descendants live — to be in Port Huron for the service.

"I'm so happy," she said. "It's overwhelming, the support and the fact that he's home.

"I don't have words to say."

She received an American flag that had draped Jones' simple coffin. The flag, she said, would go in a special place.

Sue Nichols of Burton also received a flag that she held clutched to her chest. Jones is her great-uncle.

"It's overwhelming," she said. "It's amazing. I'm so blessed because all these people showed up."

She said she felt sad at her great-uncle's death, but also joyous that his body had been returned to Port Huron.

Jones was 30 years old when he died. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1929 and attained the rank of machinist mate first class.

Mike Phillips came with family from Port Sanilac for the ceremony honoring his great-great-uncle.

"He's family and he served our country," he said. "It's the right way to show respect."

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Roderick Baltzer of Cheboygan said Jones was his great-uncle. He said he was contacted by a Navy forensic scientist about finding a female relative so a DNA match could be attempted.

"I think it's fabulous that the United States Navy is still searching for these boys," he said, his voice choking with emotion.

Many of the people at the short ceremony wore veteran's uniforms or insignia, ball caps with "Army" or "Navy" covering gray hair.

James Hiller from Clyde Township was in his U.S. Coast Guard uniform.

"It's just wonderful that we get one of our brothers back and he's where he should be," he said.

Petty Officer Glenn Berry of the U.S. Naval Air Reserve Center at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township spoke briefly during the ceremony.

"We do quite a few veterans' burials," he said. "This one was very special. The gentleman was killed in action ... (and) he was killed aboard the Oklahoma."

Berry closed his remarks with a salute and a simple, "It is with pride that we say, 'Welcome home, shipmate.'"

Follow Bob Gross on Twitter @RobertGross477

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