Soldier’s Remains Returned to Native Soil

An American soldier’s remains from WWII are finally being returned to his native soil after decades of waiting. Since the Second World War was quite hectic, not to mention much more mobile that a majority of the fighting in WWI, the stories of repatriated bodies have grown over time as it becomes easier to find and identify a soldier’s remains through forensic tactics that were not widely available immediately following the conflict.

The growth in repatriated bodies means an increased sense of closure among the families of those who lost relatives to the war. For almost seventy years, Private First Class Cecil Edwin Harris was presumed dead. While technically, the United States Army veteran was classified as missing in action, there seemed little doubt as to his fate. When the soldier’s remains were discovered and identified, any sense of presumption was put to rest and a final declaration could be made. His son, William Harris, is now able to rest peacefully knowing that his father will be laid to rest in American soil, the reports.

The discovery was made less than a year ago, and William Harris was contacted promptly. They requested a DNA sample so that they could match it with his father’s to further finalize identification proceedings. The soldier’s remains had been discovered in France, when a group of hikers found his skull inside of a small rock formation. It would appear that he was buried by a comrade, as an etching in the stone revealed his last initial.

William and Cecil Harris were never acquainted in life. Still, William feels that he has something to gain from the closure of his father’s identification. He has heard a great deal about his father from those who knew him since long before the soldier’s remains were discovered. They had many of the same hobbies and interests, and in many ways William feels closer to his father than he ever thought possible. He is touched by the discovery and return of Cecil Harris, and hopes that anyone else missing family from the war will live to see them found.

When a loved one is discovered, many families may opt for the soldier’s remains to receive burial at the Arlington National Cemetery, in Washingon D.C., which is the fate that Cecil Harris’s surviving family has chosen. Burial of the soldier’s remains is to commence in late October, with many family members and military representatives in attendance.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE