A Gardiner man who died during World War II but whose remains were not brought back to Maine until recently, will be getting a full military burial at the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery on Civic Center Drive.

Members of American Legion Post 4 in Gardiner, also known as Smith-Wiley Post, raised $3,665 to cremate and bring home the remains of Albert Walter Wiley, one of their namesake service members, from a cemetery in Hawaii. Those remains arrived in Maine a few weeks ago.

At 2 p.m. Friday, a caravan of American Legion members and motorcyclists will arrive at the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Augusta with the remains, which have spent the last 74 years in India and Hawaii.

A group of military personnel will conduct military honors before Wiley’s remains are buried, according to Roger Paradis, the Legion post’s historian, who has spent more than four years tracking down Wiley’s remains and figuring out how to return them to Maine.

DAUGHTER TO ATTEND

Wiley’s daughter, 86-year-old Arden Clement, of Augusta, will attend the burial and be presented with an American flag as part of the military honors, Paradis said.

Wiley was the first Gardiner soldier to die in World War II, Paradis said, and his name appears on the American Legion post.

He was stationed in the Indian city of Karachi – now part of Pakistan – when he died of heat exhaustion May 4, 1942, according to military records obtained by Paradis. He was 35 at the time, and a private serving with the 51st Air Base Group.

“He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live and grow, and increase its blessings,” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote in a letter to mark Wiley’s death. “Freedom lives, and through it, he lives.”

Wiley’s remains first were buried in a British military cemetery in Karachi, then were moved to an American military cemetery in another Indian city 1,400 miles away. There they stayed for a few years, records indicate, under a wooden cross and between the remains of two other U.S. soldiers, a second lieutenant and a radio technician.

REMAINS COULDN’T GO TO MAINE

The military again considered where to move Wiley’s body in 1949, according to official correspondence, but it could not be returned to Maine. Wiley was unmarried when he joined the Army, and his closest relative was his daughter, Clement, who was 18 years old at the time – too young to qualify for next-of-kin rights.

So his body was moved to a veterans’ cemetery in Honolulu instead.

Some 65 years later, Gardiner area veterans began researching the history of their American Legion post. When they learned that Clement could not afford to have her father’s remains brought to Maine, they raised the money to do so.

“I’ve got about four and a half years tied into this crazy thing,” Paradis said. “Now he’s here, and we’re burying him here at the old veterans’ cemetery this Friday.”

Paradis expects a large caravan to leave the Smith-Wiley Post in Gardiner around 1 p.m. Friday and arrive around 2 p.m. at the Augusta cemetery, He expects the ceremony will involve a color guard, a rifle volley, the presentation of a flag to Clement and the eventual burial of an urn containing Wiley’s ashes. He also encouraged the public to attend.

Charles Eichacker can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

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