75 years after he was killed, remains of local Marine coming home

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (WPVI) -- "When they called me and told me they identified him, I just screamed and cried," said Jean Roman.

U.S. Marine Michael Salerno is finally coming home. His sister, Jean Roman, says the Chestnut Hill native enlisted in the U.S. Marines at the age of 19 in 1943. He was killed later that same year fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, during the Battle of Tarawa.

It would take decades before they were reunited.

Three years ago, the Armed Forces contacted Roman asking for DNA from both her and other family members. Then, finally, a match! Scientists identified her brother's remains in the fall of 2018.

"When they showed me that picture, I just broke down," she said. "I just never thought that's all that would come home."

Salerno's unidentified remains had been housed at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii since 1949.

In that time, his parents have passed and all of his siblings who bid him farewell when he went off to war, are gone; except for Roman, who is now bracing of a homecoming she never thought would happen.

"My mom always said after he passed away, 'He'll come around the corner, he's coming home!' So we are going to ride past my mom's house and we're going to bring him home," Roman said.

Salerno's remains touch down Friday around noon. His family plans to bury him over the weekend next to his parents.
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