CLEVELAND — More than 75 years after a World War II soldier's death, his remains are finally back home in Ashland County.
The life of Private First Class Sanford Keith Bowen, who was killed in France in 1945, was celebrated on Friday with full military honors. His remains had been unaccounted for decades, but DNA tests earlier this year finally revealed his identity.
Bowen was drafted back in 1942 to fight in the Second World War, leaving behind his wife and a son who was born while he was gone, whom he never had a chance to meet. He was part of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division.
In January of 1945, Bowen's unit was attempting to secure terrain near Reipertswiller, France. Officials report only two men from his company made it through German lines, and the rest were captured or killed. Bowen’s body could not be immediately recovered, due to the heavy fighting.
Historians with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said their scientists used anthropological analysis to identify Bowen. He was actually accounted for back in March, officials said, but the announcement was delayed until his family received a full briefing.
"He was proud to serve and he gave up everything," said Bowen's granddaughter Lisa Simpson during Friday's service. So we are free, and we can live our lives in America. And that is what so many people I don’t think really think about today."
Bowen has been honored with several awards and recognition for his service, including the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the World War II Victory Medal. He was laid to rest next to his wife and son at Mount Hope Cemetery in Shiloh.
The Associated Press contributed to this story