SEDALIA, Mo. — A World War II veteran whose remains were recently identified finally returned home to Sedalia on Wednesday after 76 years.
The remains of Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Harold Lee Dick, a Purple Heart recipient, were identified through DNA after resting in a Marine division cemetery in Saipan, Japan, for close to eight decades.
“His mother and father worked for years to get him home. His sister worked for years,” said Beverly Simmons, Dick’s second cousin. “We never gave up, and it means so much to my family that we finally got him home.”
Dick was killed in action off the coast on the Tinian Islands in July 1944 along with 39 other people. He was just 22 years old.
Known as X-39, he was exhumed for possible identification in 2017. In November 2018, Dick’s remains were identified by a DNA sample from his sister and another family member.
They were flown to Kansas City International Airport on Wednesday afternoon and escorted to Sedalia by more than 50 Patriot Guard riders and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
“Honor and respect. Those guys that died over there, there’s a lot of them that will never come home, and if we get to bring one home like this, can’t ask for nothing better for a family,” said Patriot Guard Rider Capt. Bryan Cook.
Family will hold a funeral with full Naval military honors, including a horse-drawn carriage through town to the cemetery and a U.S. Air Force flyover.
The funeral is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Heckart Funeral Home in Sedalia. Dick will be buried in the family plot with his father, mother and sister.