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Olathe veteran hoping to visit grave of father who died in World War II in Belgium

OLATHE, Kan. -- A veteran in Olathe is hoping to find closure more than 70 years after his father was killed.

Larry Bryant’s dad was shot and killed while trying to help a fellow comrade during World War II.

“According to his buddies, (my dad) swam across a river for one of his wounded buddies, picked him up and put him on his shoulder when he got shot through the head," Bryant said.

Larry Bryant

Bryant was only four years old at the time. Now, more than seven decades later, he's hoping to visit his father's grave to properly say goodbye.

“I always said, when I was little, when I got big, I was going to join the military, go to Germany and kill the guy who killed him, but that was the kid talk,” he said.

But he did join the Marines, serving between 1959 and 1963. The 77-year-old veteran said his dad is part of the reason he decided to serve in the military.

Larry Bryant as a child with his mother and father

“He believed in country and family,” Bryant said.

The only memories Bryant has of his father are inside a book his mother made for him that features a collection of pictures and articles, chronicling the life and death of his father.

“She finished it three or four years ago and gave it to me,” he said. “It makes me miss him.”

Bryant cherishes the book because he never had the opportunity to properly say goodbye to his father, who is buried nearly 5,000 miles away at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium.

“They didn’t have a chance to bring everybody home with so many killed," he said. "That’s why they have so many grave sites over there because they couldn’t bring people home."

Strapped for cash most of his life and now facing health issues -- including diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and atrial fibrillation -- Bryant is afraid his dream of visiting his father’s grave site is slowing fading away.

“It would fill a big void in my life,” Bryant said. “(His absence) doesn’t particularly bother me every day, but there are times that it does like at Christmas time and my birthday — stuff like that. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have him here.”