AUGUSTA — A Gardiner man who died in World War II but whose remains were not returned to Maine until recently received a full military burial Friday afternoon at the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Augusta.

Among the 75 or so people who attended the belated burial of Army Pvt. Albert Walter Wiley’s ashes was his daughter, 86-year-old Arden Clement of Augusta, and members of American Legion Post 4 in Gardiner, also called Smith-Wiley Post.

“He’s finally come back,” Clement said after the burial ceremony, which included a military color guard, a rifle volley and remarks by several veterans.

Clement, who barely knew her father, was presented with several tokens at the ceremony.

She first was handed an urn containing the ashes of Wiley, who died of heat exhaustion in 1942 while stationed in India.

Wiley was unmarried when he left for war and did not know his daughter well.

In 1949, when no one back home claimed Wiley’s remains, they were sent to a veterans cemetery in Hawaii.

Only in the last five years did Roger Paradis, a historian with Smith-Wiley Post, begin researching the background of the veteran who gave the group half of its name. This summer, the group spent $3,665 of its own money to have Wiley’s remains disinterred, cremated and shipped to Gardiner in an urn.

Wiley was the first Gardiner soldier who died in World War II, according to Paradis’ research.

Later in Friday’s ceremony, two members of the military color guard unfolded and refolded an American flag before handing it to Clement.

The flag was a testament to the “courageous deed of our comrade,” said Keith Estabrook, a member of the Kennebec County Veterans’ Honor Guard, a volunteer group that participates at the burials of Maine veterans.

Members of the Kennebec County Veterans Honor Guard fired rifles at the ceremony and presented Clement with three spent shell casings as proof of the military honors.

Once the ceremony was completed, cemetery staff members stored the urn containing Wiley’s ashes in a columbarium on the cemetery grounds.

Also attending the ceremony were members of the Patriot Guard Riders, motorcyclists who on Friday afternoon brought the urn containing Wiley’s ashes from Gardiner to Augusta.

Several other relatives of Wiley’s also were at the ceremony, including his grandson Bradford Clement, who, like his mother, lives in the Augusta area.

“It really feels good,” he said after the ceremony. “I was really, really impressed with the turnout.”

So was Paradis.

“It went very well,” he said. “A lot of us were very surprised how many people came.”

The Smith-Wiley Post spent its own money to bring Wiley’s ashes to Maine in part because Clement was still alive and could not afford to do so herself, Paradis said.

At Friday’s ceremony, she offered the group a check for $200, which will go into its general fund, he said.

At one point after Wiley died, Clement made a trip to his burial site in Hawaii and left flowers, she said in an interview this summer.

Now that he’s much closer to home, she plans to visit more often.

Charles Eichacker can be conacted at 621-5642 or at

[email protected]

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