The remains of a Massachusetts soldier who died while serving in World War II finally returned to his hometown of Taunton on Thursday.
Twenty-six-year-old Tech. Sgt. John F. Brady was killed in action Nov. 2, 1944, when his B-17 was shot down over Merseburg, Germany. Brady was with eight other airmen, three of whom survived and became prisoners of war.
Brady and five others had all been declared missing in action until decades later in 2016 when forensic experts and historians discovered the site where the plane went down, according to the Boston Herald.
Through DNA testing, Brady and two others were identified.
Their remains were buried together earlier this year at Arlington National Cemetery; however, small fragments of Brady's skull were sent back to his hometown of Taunton, where a wake was held Wednesday at the O’Keefe-Wade Funeral Home.
"There's a hole there that never gets filled," Brady's son Michael said. "It was the same way for my mother even though she had another husband."
Michael was just an infant when his father was killed.
"It’s a tremendous day for the city of Taunton, certainly for the Brady family as it brings closure after so many years," said Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye, Jr.
Gov. Charlie Baker ordered state and U.S. flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset while a procession brought Brady's remains from the funeral home on Thursday to his final resting place at St. Francis Old Cemetery, where other family members are buried.
Michael said he decided to bury his father back in Taunton for sentimental reasons.
"I was in a Walmart in West Little Rock when I got the call from Fort Knox, Kentucky, telling me he had been identified. I kinda got weak-kneed," Michael said. "Today would be the 75th anniversary of my parent’s marriage, so that’s why I chose this day."
Full military honors, including a rifle volley, were given for Brady after a Catholic Mass.