WWII veteran buried in Giltner 72 years after being labeled non-recoverable

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 10:21 PM CDT
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GILTNER, Neb. (KSNB) - A Nebraska man was laid to rest in Giltner on Tuesday after he lost his life in WWII but wasn’t identified until just recently.

Lyle Wayne Reab was buried as an unknown soldier in Belgium in 1949. In 2018 a historian was doing research and thought it was possible the unidentified body could have been him. Dental records and DNA testing showed that it was.

His extended family gathered in Giltner for his burial next to his parents on Tuesday, many having never met him before.

Pat Reab-Baxter was one of his cousins in attendance. She never got to meet him, but did spend a lot of time with his parents.

“We just got to talking and learning and wanting to know more about Lyle and what happened and also understand a little of what Harry and Daisy might have gone through,” she told Local4 News.

His parents never got the closure of finding him, but now the rest of the family is at peace with knowing they will be together for eternity.

“I just wish they were alive to just to know because they didn’t know what happened,” Reab-Baxter said. “As an only son, that had to be such a heartache.”

“I’m just so disappointed that his parents never knew what happened to him, but we can lay him to rest beside them now and I’m so honored,” another cousin Karen Thomas said.

While the ceremony was very somber, the family said it was not a sad day.

“To me this is a great celebration,” Thomas said. “We can celebrate this returning home and I’m so grateful for all the DNA testing or whatever it took to bring him home.”

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