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Remains of WWII soldier returns home 80 years later

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 8:54 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - After being identified more than 70 years later, one WWII soldier from Central Nebraska was finally returned home and was welcomed back by family members who greeted him upon arrival.

The remains of Phillips native Army Pvt. Lyle W. Reab left Omaha at around 10:15 a.m. and then arrived at the Higby-Mcquiston Mortuary in Aurora to be buried next week.

“I think it is a blessing and it’s time,” said Lyle Reab’s Cousin Gail Morris.

This after being reported missing in 1944 after fighting the Germans on Nov. 9.

“He was reported missing in Vossenack, Germany,” said Reab’s other Cousin Karen Thomas.

Unfortunately Reab’s body was never recovered after the battle and his loved ones never got to say goodbye. Gail Morris often saw his mother crying but was too young to understand why.

“At that time, you know, kids was kind of pushed outside, so I’m figuring that in hindsight that was what was going on,” Morris said.

Karen Thomas told Local4 News she can’t imagine the pain they all must have felt.

“As a mother I can’t imagine, you know, the trauma that they went through and not knowing what happened to him and now we know, you know, what happened to him and it’s very much a relief,” Thomas said.

In 2018, a historian determined the unidentified remains found in a foxhole in the southeastern part of the Vossenack area back in 1948 could possibly be Reab and after extensive tests, his instincts turned out to be true. He was later accounted for on Feb. 24, 2021.

“My sister and I and dad were talking and said is this for real we couldn’t hardly believe it,” Thomas said.

“What a miracle, it’s just, just a miracle,” Morris said.

Now that he’s found, Thomas said it’s a relief for the entire family.

“Did I ever personally know him, no but, you know, you hear stories and like I said we’ll just get some closure now knowing that he’s finally home,” Thomas said.

There will be a burial service for Reab on Jun. 8 in Giltner and he will be buried next to his mother and father at Lerton Cemetery.

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