World War II veteran identified after nearly 80 years, laid to rest in Grafton
GRAFTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A World War II veteran has finally come home to be laid to rest in Grafton Saturday.
"I'm out here because I think it's a very important day for Grafton," said Grafton resident Mark Schroeder.
He was one of hundreds of residents who stood, flags in hand up and down North Street in Grafton, as the long-unidentified remains of 1ST Lt. Roy Coulson Harms headed towards Woodlawn Cemetery.
Lt. Harms enlisted as Mechanical Calvary in the U.S. Army before eventually being transferred to the Army Air Corps. and earning his wings.
His plane was downed in an operation in Romania in August of 1943. His remains weren't identified until 79 years later, nearly to the day.
"I was really surprised. I knew they were trying, but I guess I didn't, I guess I didn't ever think it was going to happen," said Roy's great nephew, Mark Heinze.
Mark was one of many of Lt. Roy's extended family there Saturday, as his remains were laid to rest.
People from across Grafton came to pay their respects to the decorated veteran, who was only 26 when he was killed.
"It was really an honor. I just, I'm just amazed as many people came out to do this. It's almost a little overwhelming," said Mark.
Mark's mother, and Roy's niece, Mary Heinze, says their whole family was in awe.
"It made me cry seeing all the people lining the streets with flags and saluting. It's just amazing," said Mary.
"It was a great tribute from this town and this community," said Mary's husband, Tom Heinze.
She says for most everyone there, they only knew Roy from family stories.
"None of us knew Roy. We weren't born then," said Mary, "But he was an Eagle Scout and I think well liked."
His family says he had a sense of humor, too, and wasn't pushed around by his older sisters and brother.
"He made sure he got the biggest piece of cake," laughed Mary.
They say adventure called him to serve his country, and eventually to lay down his life.
As Lt. Roy Harms is laid to rest with military honors, and the flag is returned to his family, his name hasn't been forgotten.
Mark's son, 6-year-old Roy Heinze, the great, great nephew of Lt. Harms, who shares his name, was there to pay his respects to his namesake, as well.
"He was a young man when we lost him and he never had any children of his own and we really liked the family names and we thought it would be a good way to continue his legacy," said Mark.