BURNSIDE, Ky. (LEX 18) — A journey that took nearly 80 years has finally come to an end.
Floyd Helton was a sailor aboard the USS Oklahoma on December 7th, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
He, along with dozens of others killed, remained unidentified for decades.
But technology and relatives searching for answers helped bring him home to Pulaski County this week.
Vicki Easley's mother was a step-sister of Helton's. She promised Helton's father that they would keep searching for him.
"We have brought him home. That was her father's fondest wish that if anything was ever possible, that he would be brought home, he would be. So (my) mother's fulfilled that promise to her father, and we've brought him home," said Easley.
Helton began his service in the Navy at the age of 17. He left Pulaski County for the west coast, then landed in Hawaii during the summer of 1941.
When his ship was attacked, Helton was presumed dead. It was not until April 23, 2020, when the remains of Navy Seaman 2nd Class Floyd D. Helton, 18, were accounted for according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
"When they actually called my mother, I mean, you could hear her squealing probably two blocks from the house," said Easley.
Even after 78 years, Easley says her mother waited another 15 months before Helton could return to the Bluegrass for burial.
Since the plane carrying his ashes touched down at CVG Airport, he has received a hero's welcome along the ride from northern Kentucky, to Somerset, and to his final resting place at Sloans Valley Cemetery in Burnside.
"It was just so, so, heartening to know that they even bothered to come out to honor somebody who's been dead for 80 years," said Easley. "It was just so gratifying, humbling, just really fantastic."
Helton was laid to rest near his grandparents and his father at Sloans Valley Cemetery in Burnside.