THOMPSON, Iowa - After over 70 years, one United States veteran has finally received his proper burial.
Dozens of people gathered this afternoon at the Rose Hill cemetery in Thompson, Iowa, to celebrate the life of Private Donald E. Brown.
“My cousin is here with her two sons – they were a part of the service and then we have a whole array of second and third cousins that are here,” said Joyce Sorensen, Pvt. Brown’s niece.
After being declared as an unknown soldier in Europe since 1944, Private Brown finally returned home today.
“From what I understand, his tank, Don was the only casualty of that attack,” said niece Alison Conrad.
70 years later, the family was contacted to see if they were interested in pursuing DNA testing.
“I actually had to request that the remains be disinterred there in France and I had to be willing to submit DNA,” added Sorensen.
After Joyce and her cousin from Colorado had submitted DNA samples, they found out there was a match.
“I cried and that surprised me actually because in fact, I had never met him other than just the stories that were passed on to me,” said Conrad.
Alison admitted that this hits close to home for her.
“Having two sons in uniform, it was a very moving experience for me to think that the country we live in and the army we serve goes to such drastic efforts to find remains of soldiers,” added Conrad.
The family also expressed their thankfulness to those who helped make the ceremony possible.
“The participation of the community and the local authorities that made it happen, the folks that came out to say goodbye and show their respects to a soldier in uniform that gave the ultimate sacrifice was very moving for me,” said Conrad.
Private Brown has received multiple awards and honors.
Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds, declared that all flags be lowered to half-staff on Oct. 6 in his honor.