NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — Army Private Earl Keating came home on Delta Flight 1063, and when the U.S Army Honor Guard met his casket, family members were overwhelmed.

“Oh my God it was like, you know, it couldn’t have been a more touching moment in my life,” said second cousin Sue duTreil of New Orleans. “To know that this man has been lying in a shallow grave in New Guinea for 74 years.”

Keating’s family was overwhelmed by the support of people who didn’t even know the veteran.

“To see all the support we had with the Patriot Guard, and Delta putting American flags on the plane, and the pilots came out, it was really, really touching,” added great, great nephew Tyler Lege of Lafayette.Earl Keating was born in New Orleans in 1914.

“Earl was a New Orleans boy,” explained nephew Nadau duTreil Michael Keating, Jr. of Lafayette. “He grew up here, Sacred Heart, Jesuit, he worked at Maison Blanche.”Army Private Earl Keating was part of an intense battle in Papua, New Guinea, nearly hand to hand combat against soldiers armed with machetes, machine guns and mortars.

“I had only studied World War II in school,” Lege said. “We didn’t learn much.”However, learning about Keating’s sacrifice changed his great, great nephew’s view.

“He was personally responsible for allowing us the freedoms that we have today,”Lege said.His family knows the personal sacrifice Keating made.

“It was a terrible situation, and they just went, and just gave their lives,” duTreil added.Private Keating died just before Christmas 1942, and other soldiers buried him in an unmarked grave.

“My dad, when he passed, and my grandmother, and my grandfather all insisted that I would keep up this effort to bring Earl home,” Nadau explained.His body was discovered in 2012, setting the stage for fourth cousin Hannah Gray to release a dove at Schoen Funeral Home.

“I was awfully glad he was brought home,” Gray said.His family echoed the sentiment.

“That dove is I think the peace that we all have in our heart now that Uncle Earl is home with us,” DuTreil concluded.Private Earl Keating’s funeral will be held Saturday May 28, with visitation at 11 a.m., and funeral at 1 p.m. It takes place at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, which Keating attended as a boy. Archbishop Gregory Aymond will perform the funeral mass. Afterwards, the funeral procession will pass in front of the National World War II Museum, where taps will be played. Then, Private Keating will be buried in the family tomb at St. Joseph Cemetery.

(© 2016 WWL)