BLOUNTVILLE, TN (WJHL) – After more than 70 years, a soldier killed during WWII is now back home in the Tri-Cities region.
The State of Tennessee says Private First Class Reece Gass was likely killed back on January 14t, 1945. His remains were not identified until last year thanks to a DNA match from his niece. The army believes he died after his tank was destroyed by enemy fire.
Gass is from Greeneville. The state says he was 20-years-old at the time of his death. his remains were recovered from a tank in Belgium in 1947 and he was buried in Luxembourg.
Around 8 p.m. Thursday night, Gass’ remains arrived at the Tri-Cities Airport on a Delta Airlines flight.
His family waited close by as they welcomed their loved one back home. His casket was gently lowered and brought into a hearse. The armed forces paid tribute to the fallen soldier, his remains were then escorted back to Greeneville by nearly 150 men and women from various veterans and motorcycle organizations.
“We’re touched, there are some tears, there’s some joy, It’s important to honor these men who gave the ultimate sacrifice, all gave some, some gave all,” Bob Rambo, Chairman of the Board of Rolling Thunder Tennessee Chapter 4.
Dozens of area residents also came out to witness this soldier’s homecoming and to show their respects for Gass.
“It was pretty amazing, they finally have some closure to something they’ve wondered about for years and its been long overdue for this man,” Blountville resident, Billy Miller said.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam declared thisSaturdayy to be a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset in Gass’ honor.
Rambo said as a veterans organization, escorting and bringing home an American hero is the most important thing they do as an organization.
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