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‘It was truly a hero’s welcome’ — The remains of a WWII Marine are finally home

It didn’t take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.

It’s a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation’s armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.

“In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth,” Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.

He described the scene in front of police headquarters on Thursday when the motorcade carrying Livermore’s remains passed the station on Truxtun Avenue.

Virtually the entire force of sworn BPD officers “stood at attention,” as the hearse carrying Livermore’s remains passed by, Martin said.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood echoed the theme, praising the people of Kern County for the respect and gratitude shown to Livermore and all those who have served in the armed forces.

“Thank God we live in Kern County,” he said. “From Bakersfield to Ridgecrest, the most patriotic place in the country — and I’ve been to a lot of places.”

Livermore’s homecoming was long overdue.

The East Bakersfield High School alumnus was 19 when he enlisted to fight against Nazi fascism and Japanese military expansion during World War II. Less than two years later, he was among 18,000 Marines charged with the task of wresting control of the Pacific Atoll of Tarawa from well-entrenched Japanese forces.

The Americans ultimately were successful, but Livermore was among many who lost their lives in the fierce fighting. He was only 21 when he was killed by an enemy bayonet, fighting in desperate hand-to-hand combat. The date was Nov. 22, 1943.

He was buried on the island, but after the war, when the remains of …read more

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