RUSSELL COUNTY, Ky. (FOX 56) — More than 80,000 United States service members remain unaccounted for. But on Saturday, a Russell County soldier who lost his life during World War II and whose remains were not identified until this year was able to return home.
Seventy-nine years after he left Kentucky to fight in World War II in Germany, Henry C. Wade has finally made it back home.
Wade’s great-nephew Brandon Wade said, “Years you know of searching and we just never thought this would happen.”
The defense prisoner of war/missing in action accounting agency identified the remains of Army Private First-Class Wade back in May. Wade said this is something nobody in his family expected to see in their lifetime.
“We have family that have driven from you know other states, stayed in hotel rooms. You know, people we don’t see but maybe once every few years and, you know, they made this trip to come down for this moment,” Wade said.
Wade and other distant relatives were joined by Rolling Thunder Kentucky 5 as Wade’s body was escorted to Russell County.
Rolling Thunder Kentucky 5 President Todd Matonich said, “It’s all about making him known because a lot of people are like we had no idea we were still missing someone from Russell County. So, I mean, for us to be able to do that, I want everybody to know; nobody should be in the dark.”
According to the Defense Department, Wade became an infantryman in November 1944 and was declared non-recoverable in December 1951.
“He’s 24 years old, infinitely. He gave his life for this country fighting in World War II. So, I mean, for us to do this and for us to come out here and bring him home, it’s so emotional and such an honor that it’s you can’t put it into words,” Matonich said.
This is David White’s fifth missing-in-action escort, and he said it never gets easier.
“This kid has been missing for almost 80 years, and suddenly he’s coming back home to a family. Ya, it’s emotional,” said White. “We need to continue to do this. and as long as they continue to identify the MIAs, we will continue to bring them home.”
Henry will be laid to rest in Russell Springs on Nov. 29.
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Matonich said Wade is the 26th person rolling thunder has helped return to their final resting place since 2017.