Remains of Wichita veteran finally home 80 years after death
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - The remains of a long-lost war hero from Wichita who's been presumed dead since the 1940s were finally identified this year.
Thursday, he made it home.
If you were catching a red-eye flight Thursday night, you might have noticed a big group of people waiting for an American Airlines flight as it passed under a water solute on the tarmac.
"About a month ago, we received a call from a family that had been guided by the military to call funeral homes in this area to see who they wanted to actually perform this funeral," said Hillside Funeral Home Director Bethany Watson-Jaquis.
Watson-Jaquis and her team coordinated the arrival of the long-lost Wichita war hero.
In August of 1943, 22-year-old Staff Sgt. Wesley Jones was fighting for our country as a gunner in the back of a B-24 Bomber. After getting hit by an enemy in Romania, the airplane crashed, and Jones was presumed dead. Like many who died in the war, his remains were never identified – until now.
"It was nice to be able to know that I could guide them on this journey that they're going to go on. We did one that was similar last year here for another person who had been reclaimed from World War II, So I knew that we had some of the experience to be able to handle it," said Watson-Jaquis.
Jones is finally home and making his way to Wichita Park Cemetery – his final resting place.
Watson-Jaquis says as tough as her job can be, being able to help families of fallen veterans find some peace and closure makes it all worth it.
"These people gave it all. Literally. And they've been missing for so long that it's nice to know that we can bring them home and offer those families who have gathered these stories for many, many years, the comfort of knowing that person is finally here," she said.
Watson-Jaquis says if you'd like to pay your respects or learn more about Jones, there will be a public visitation and viewing on Saturday the 23rd from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Wichita Park Cemetery.