Meredith Keirn, a local Marine killed in the Korean War, was finally given a proper burial in Arlington Cemetery recently.
Darr Keirn, Meredith Keirn's brother, had been fighting for years to recover the remains of his brother, and in May 2018, he was told the DNA sample he submitted was an exact match with recently uncovered remains. Darr's wish was always to have his brother buried at Arlington Cemetery.
Irene Keirn, Darr Keirn's wife, said that a "beautiful" ceremony was held on Aug. 8.
"It was unbelievable," she added. "It meant so much when they handed me the flag (to give to) Darr."
Darr Keirn was not able to make the ceremony, and Irene Keirn said once he received the flag he become very emotional.
"He had us all crying," she added.
Irene Keirn said there was around 50 family members who attended the ceremony.
Meredith Keirn was born on Dec. 25, 1925 and was raised with Darr and five other siblings, including Sharon, Jan, Reah, Demarius and Sprinse.
He enlisted in the Navy from Niagara Falls, reporting for duty in the Navy on March 9, 1944 before joining the Marines on March 20. He began active service in the Marines on March 24, 1944 and was honorably discharged as a corporal May 22, 1946. He then reenlisted May 23, 1946 and was discharged as a sergeant May 22, 1949. He then reenlisted again as a sergeant.
During World War II, Meredith Keirn served in the battle of Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles in Marine history.
Darr’s son-in-law, Michael Cendoma, said when Keirn reenlisted for the final time many of his friends were already serving in Korea.
“He has a pass already saying he’s a hero,” Cendoma said. “There’s not reason for him to do anything more, and he signs back up to do it all over again. I just think that’s extremely impressive. I think he just probably couldn’t stand being home knowing men in his company that he had fought with were still fighting. I’m sure that was the motivation to sign back up.”
During the Korean War, Keirn was a member of Fox Company, officially known as Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
He was wounded on Nov. 28, 1950 by the Chinese Communist Forces while defending a hill overlooking the Toktong Pass in North Korea. After succumbing to his injuries, his remains were buried at the base of the nearby “Fox Hill.”
In October of 2011, Darr Keirn went to a military building at Arlington Cemetery and found out that if he wanted to identify his brother’s remains he had to submit a DNA sample.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which is responsible for attempting to identify unaccounted U.S. military personnel dating back to World War II, was contacted by an intermediary from South Korea in August 2015 and they turned over a partial set of remains reportedly recovered from North Korea.
The accounting agency identified the remains of Meredith Keirn on May 31, 2018.