WWII Soldier's Remains Return Home on D-Day Anniversary

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By Jessica Gertler

On this 69th anniversary of D-Day in World War II, an Alabama soldier's remains finally return home. He was part of the invasion of Normandy, France on that day, but was reported missing in action while fighting in the Korean War.

The family of Master Sergeant Olen Williams waited for this moment for 63 years. His family is from all across the state including the River Region. They say they thought this day would never come.

"Years ago, he was storming the beaches in the first wave of soldiers that went ashore," says Dorthy Justiss, William's niece. "Today he comes home on D-Day."

A flag-draped casket is carried into a Clanton funeral home. Inside lie the remains of Williams who was born in Autauga County. He was declared missing December 12, 1950 while fighting in North Korea.

"We had hope that he would be identified, and his remains would be returned," says family member Robert Williams.

For more than six decades, Williams's family searched for answers. Last year, Justiss attended a meeting for unaccounted soldiers where she gave a DNA sample. In April, Justiss got a call. The army had identified her uncle.

"I couldn't believe it, but I knew it was true, because the caller I.D. read Fort Knox," she says.

Williams had been buried in a national cemetery in Hawaii.

"It's been so long," Justiss says holding back tears. "It's finally coming true!"

Williams's twin brother, siblings and parents weren't at his homecoming. They are no longer alive. But his nephews, nieces and cousins were there to welcome him home.

For the first time in 63 years, his family gave their proper goodbyes. This soldier's service is now complete. May he rest in peace.

Master Sgt. Williams will be buried in Clanton in his full uniform Sunday. Williams was buried in Hawaii, but the army brought him to Alabama, so he could be buried alongside his family members.

Nearly 8,000 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. The federal government continues to use modern technology to identify those soldiers' remains. 

 

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