World War Two soldier finally laid to rest
Saturday, Army Private First Class Berton J. McQueen was laid to rest amongst family and friends
WIND CAVE, Ky. (WTVQ) – A soldier is being welcomed home.
After over 75 years, Army Private First Class Berton J. McQueen was finally given a hero’s welcome back to his home, one that he never got.
McQueen, who died in France while serving in the U.S. Army in World War Two, was finally identified by D-N-A tests and forensic analysis through the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in July.
Saturday, Private First Class McQueen was laid to rest amongst family and friends at the church he grew up in, Wind Cave Church in Wind Cave, Kentucky.
“He went to church there and he accepted the Lord at that church at a young age and with that hope we know we’ll see him again someday. Or actually meet him, in our case. The community is glad to see him back where he belongs,” said Lisa L. Hobbs Brown, McQueen’s great-niece.
His niece, Genevieve Palm, has spent most of her life researching her uncle, who she says is her favorite person.
“I can’t remember the first time I heard his name because it wasn’t talked about all the time. But we were just aware always. This is our uncle. And he went to war and he never came home,” said Palm.
For Palm, finally seeing McQueen back home is what she and her mother dreamed.
“We had the idea that maybe he had amnesia. And maybe he was just still out there someplace. My mother looked for him–she died in 2008–and she was still hopeful that they would someday find him or identify him and be able to bring him home,” said Palm.
McQueen was only 19 years old when he was given three days’ furlough, after being stationed in Mississippi, to return to Wind Cave before being sent overseas to fight in World War Two.
McQueen served in the 36th division, 141st Infantry Battalion, completing tours in North Africa, Italy, and France. He was wounded twice, and received two purple hearts.
Though the world was at war, Palm says the letters he wrote back home spoke only of the beautiful things he saw.
“There were things he wanted told when he came home…where he’d been and what he’d done. And now, everybody knows. And that’s just amazing. It truly is amazing,” said Palm.
He died in 1944, just nine days before his 21st birthday. October 17 marks the 78th anniversary since McQueen was last home in Jackson County.
Saturday, a funeral service was held for McQueen at the Jackson County Veterans Memorial Park, followed by a burial service at Wind Cave Church.