A sudden solemn hush fell over the busy platform of the local Pennsylvania railroad station Wednesday afternoon when a flag-draped casket was escorted from the train to a waiting funeral car.
A Marine was home from the war. The body of Pfc. Reuben E. Hedger, USMC, who gave his life for his country on the bloody shore of Tarawa, had been brought home by his nation, in the care of his comrades, under the Flag he loved. He died in combat November 21, 1943, killed by a Japanese shell.
He was the first of the war dead of Howard County to reach home from the far-flung battlefields where he and his comrades made their supreme sacrifice.
Thursday the casket rested at Ellers chapel, guarded by veterans who “knew,” and in the presence of his family and friends.
Only the large steel casket, the flag, and a photograph of the youth in his uniform, with floral tributes, were visible, but the room had the atmosphere of reverence that hovers about the symbols of heroic dead.
Friday morning at 10 o’clock at the Ellers chapel there will be a funeral service for Private Hedger. The Rev. Dwight Patterson will conduct the service.
The burial will be in Crown Point Cemetery and henceforth instead of Tarawa’s sand, Private Hedger will sleep under the green sod of Indiana. For his “long sleep” the bed has been remade by the loving hands of the “home folks.”
There will be an honor guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, honorary pallbearers of Legionnaires, and a firing squad to fire the three volleys of the salute rated only by men who have served honorably in the military services. There will be the poignant notes of “Taps” and then Reuben Hedger, USMC, can sleep here at the home which he helped make secure by the victory he helped to win.
Private Hedger’s father, sister and two brothers who live in Kokomo will attend the service. Another sister, Mrs. Carol Carter, Green Cove Springs, Fla., will be unable to be present.
When the body is placed at rest the Flag will be given to the family and the burial place will be marked by a grateful nation.
Hedger enlisted in the Marine Corps December 29, 1941, at Indianapolis and received his basic training at San Diego, Cal. He was a member of Carlson’s Raiders who surprised the Japanese garrison at Makin Island August 17 and 18, 1942.
During his life in Kokomo he attended Kokomo High School and later was employed as a machine operator in the Kingston Products Corporation.
In the Makin raid, Hedger was a member of a demolition group that destroyed a large gasoline supply and pier under constant bombings and heavy small-arms fire.