More than 50 years ago, four boyhood friends leaving home to fight in World War II promised each other that if anyone was killed in action, the others would bring him home for burial.

That promise was finally honored Friday when 2nd Lt. Waylan Bennett was buried with honors in Texarkana. He had crashed in the dense jungle of Espiritu Santo Island, New Hebrides - now the independent South Pacific nation of Vanuatu - on Oct. 2, 1943.The services, part of observances of national POW/MIA Recognition Day, culminated an eight-year search for his body organized by friends Robert Sandlin, a Navy veteran and retired state judge; Robert Bowden, an insurance executive who served in the Army; and the late D.A. Carson, a disabled and decorated Marine paratrooper who died last year before Bennett was found.

"They did not forget," Dan Bookout, a Texarkana doctor and well-known endurance pilot, told Reuters on Friday. The three had asked him to determine if a search of the island was feasible.

Bookout said the four were childhood friends, neighbors and schoolmates who grew up chasing the same girls. They were still teenagers, planning to join the military, when they made their pledge on Dec. 8, 1941.