Remains of WWII soldier returned to KY family after 70 years - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Remains of WWII soldier returned to KY family after 70 years

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The remains of Army Sgt. William Carneal arrive at Nashville International Airport. The remains of Army Sgt. William Carneal arrive at Nashville International Airport.
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

After a decades-long mystery, the family of a World War II soldier finally has some closure. Army Sgt. William Carneal, who disappeared nearly 70 years ago, will soon be laid to rest in his native Kentucky.

"It's a happy day for us and a heartfelt situation," said nephew J.T. Carneal.

His family never knew if they'd ever find out what really happened to him, but they took the first step Tuesday in giving the sergeant a proper goodbye.

"All they got was a letter in the mail saying 'missing in action,' and that's all they've known for 70 years," said great-niece Suzanne Carneal Roberts.

William Carneal was declared missing in action July 7, 1944, while fighting in Saipan.

"He lost his life with a machine gun that jammed and killed a lot of people," J.T. Carneal said.

Japanese nonprofit Kutenai found the American soldier's remains while looking for the bodies of missing Japanese soldiers.

William Carneal was found still with his dog tags and 1939 class ring from Paducah's Heath High School.

"I was 3 years old when he left. I never met him, but I heard about him all my life. He was a private, nice, modest young man, and I know he'd want to be home," J.T. Carneal said.

The soldier's remains arrived Tuesday morning at Nashville International Airport and were then driven to his home state.

"All of Kentucky will lower the flag at half-staff on Friday for William Carneal," J.T. Carneal said.

The seven Japanese men who found William Carneal's remains will make the trip to Paducah to attend his funeral on Friday on what would've been William Carneal's 94th birthday.

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