Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An emotional and special return for two families. The remains of soldiers who fought in wars long ago and places far away came home on Wednesday.
“My grandmother got a letter from the army saying he was missing in action. After a year, he was officially presumed dead,” said Jack VonFeldt, nephew of Harry Bedard.
Bedard was just 22 years old when he died in combat.
He was a navigator aboard a B-25 that crashed on the Cebu Islands in the Phillipines on April 3, 1945. It was his 31st mission.
“It’s been a long time waiting. I just didn’t never expected it to happen,” said Marvin Carlson, brother of Ralph Carlson.
Twenty-two-year-old Ralph Carlson was a tank driver for the Army’s 25th Infantry Division, north of Seoul, Korea.
In January of 1951, Carlson was reported missing in action.
More than six decades later, the families of both these military men are united on a tarmac at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, to finally bring home their remains.
“Harry got the Purple Heart because he was killed in action. He also got the air medal because those raids in the jungle were pretty dangerous,” said VonFeldt.
Bedard’s nephew, Jack VonFeldt said his uncle’s body was found two years after the crash and placed in a combined grave with his four crew members in St. Louis.
In 2008, the military exhumed the bodies and used DNA to identify them.
“After this many years, you don’t, you just kinda think that what we was told back in the 50s was it,” said Marvin Carlson.
The family never knew Robert Carlson’s remains were turned over by the Korean government 10 years ago.
They now know he died from dysentery in a north Korean POW camp in April of 1951.
“With this new technology and stuff, DNA and stuff, there is hope,” Marvin Carlson said.
Both families, strangers until Wednesday, were able to find closure together.
As they watched the flag-draped caskets exit the plane, these families are thankful that DNA testing has brought them some closure to an open wound in their lives.
Bedard will be laid to rest on Saturday in a family plot in Dayton, Minnesota.
Carlson will be buried in his hometown of Braham on Saturday, as well.
Both will receive full military honors.