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Family members receive medals, more information about grandfather killed in World War II

Newswatch 16's Courtney Harrison spoke with Francis Martin's grandchildren about what it means to know what happened to their grandfather.

SCRANTON, Pa. — A soldier from Lackawanna County who died in France during World War II has been identified, and his family now has some answers.

Old photos show Francis Martin from Scranton just after he joined the Army in 1942.

PFC Martin's unit was stationed in France during World War II. On January 16, 1945, Martin was with a convoy bringing rations to the front lines when it was ambushed.

Erin Alverson and Joe David are Martin's grandchildren. Their mother, Mary, was born in Scranton in 1943 after Francis had left for the war. Erin says their mother never met her father, and they didn't know much about their grandfather until recently.

"We knew he was missing an action; he was never found. She was hopeful he would be found. And eventually, she got contacted by the Army, and the Army had her do her DNA."

Unfortunately, their mother passed away in 2015, not having answers.

But earlier this year, Erin and Joe did get some answers. The Army had matched their mother's DNA to the remains of a soldier buried in an American Military Cemetery in Belgium.

"How impressed we are with the thoroughness of the Army and really with the commitment that now, close to 80 years later, that they're still pursuing these cases."

Army representatives brought Erin and Joe more details about their grandfather Francis Martin, including a book and medals he was awarded. Those medals include a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

"When I thought I was just going to be a little note on a piece of paper, but it ended up being so all of these different awards that they presented to us, so I thought that was really special."

Martin still has relatives in the Scranton area, and his name appears on the veterans memorial outside Scranton High School. Erin says they are thankful to learn more about the family they are gaining.

"It's a whole part of a family tree that we were always curious about that now we're finally able to reconnect, and it's really special."

Francis Martin will be buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery sometime next year.

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