August 20, 2001
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This article was given on KFOR TV

A hero comes home -- to the country he died for

OKLAHOMA CITY, August 20, 2001 - Vernon Castle of Jet, Oklahoma has finally come home to the country he died for.

Castle was buried at Arlington National Cemetery this week, with his surviving brothers and sisters in attendance.  It was a ceremony with full military honors and for good reason.

"There wasn't any job he would ever shirk," sister Charlene Bathhurst said.
Thatís how Vernonís brother Elmo remembers him - Vernon Castle was a football and baseball player from Jet, then he joined the marines.

In 1942 he volunteered for a dangerous and secret mission behind enemy lines in the Pacific. It turned into a bloodbath as the Japanese were waiting. So Vernon and the other marine raiders shot it out.

"He was shot yet didn't kill him that instant.  But, he was able to crawl close enough so he could get some hand grenades in their machine gun implacement," Bathhurst said.

Vernon and the other raiders were buried in a mass grave.

But the story doesn't end in 1942. Under pressure from the Marine Raiders Association the Pentagon renewed it's search for that mass grave site and found it last December. That discovery lead to the ceremony at Arlington.

And it is helping to heal wounds nearly 60 years old.

"It's a closure for the family.  We knew where he was killed and that he was buried in a mass grave, but now we know where he definitely is now."

Back home in the land of freedom -- a homecoming for an Oklahoma hero.