WWII veteran's remains to return home to Marion Co. 7 decades la - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

WWII veteran's remains to return home to Marion Co. 7 decades later

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Photo by WRCB reporter Kate Smith. Photo by WRCB reporter Kate Smith.

A Marion County family is crediting an article in an Atlanta newspaper for reuniting their family. Corporal Henry Andregg Jr. died in November 1943 in World War II. For 74 years, he was considered missing in action, until Andregg's nephew read an article in the paper about matching the Corporal with his family. 

Henry Andregg Jr. was killed when he was 23 years old, serving as a Marine in the Battle of Tarawa. For over seven decades, the family mourned his death without a proper homecoming until Thursday, when the United States military showed up at their door.

“It is bittersweet that we have closure,” said Andregg’s niece, Nancy Harris.

Corporal Henry Andregg Jr. was one of over 500 missing heroes from the Battle of Tarawa, until now. “We got a reunion, they are bringing his body back,” said another niece, Glenna Raulston.

The service members killed were buried in battlefield cemeteries on the island. Despite multiple grave recovery operations, Andregg's remains were never identified, leaving his family with a lot of questions.

“I was 10 when Henry got killed, but I remember 74 years ago,” said his nephew, George Wagner.

Recently, an organization discovered the island burial site and recovered the remains of what they believed were United States service members who fought in the 1943 battle.

“It is sad, but so happy because we never thought we would have this time again,” said Raulston.

Shortly after their find, scientists in Hawaii were able to identify Andregg's remains using DNA analysis. His remains are now being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

“After 74 years, this man is finally going to the national cemetery where he deserves to be honored,” said Andregg’s great nephew, Skip Rodgers.

Members representing the United States Marine Corps traveled to Marion County to honor the family with Andregg's military decorations, including a Purple Heart to display proudly in their home.

“Makes me proud of him but sad on what he had to go through,” said a niece, Dot Rodgers.

It's a bittersweet moment for this family and a long deserved homecoming for their loved one. But, they realize other families are still waiting.

“Paid the price, he paid it with his life. So we are free. Thank God for veterans, thank God,” said Wagner.

The family is planning a funeral for Andregg at the national cemetery in Chattanooga, after his remains arrive in Tennessee.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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