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73 years later, a World War II soldier is awarded his medals

His remains are headed home after they were identified in an unmarked grave.

73 years after he was last seen alive, Army Staff Sgt. Gerald Jacobsen of St. Paul has a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Jacobsen was reported missing in action during World War II and after a year the Defense Department declared him deceased. But after some sleuthing by an amateur historian his remains have been identified after spending decades in an unmarked grave in France.

On Thursday Jacobsen's widow, 94-year-old Catherine Tauer, wiped away tears as she received his medals from Sen. Amy Klobuchar and National Guard Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, the Star Tribune reports.

Jacobsen's remains are on their way to Minnesota for a burial service at Fort Snelling National Cemetery next week and Tauer tells the Pioneer Press: "“I’m just so happy to have him home. It seems like a lift because you wonder and you wonder and you wonder where he is. … It’s just a relief to think that I can go out to Fort Snelling and see him.”

The paper explains it was a history buff from Illinois named Roberta Russo who was poring over files recently declassified by the Pentagon when she found they contained a military serial number that had been stitched into the underwear of one of the bodies buried in an unmarked grave.

Russo traced that number to Jacobsen and alerted family members who were waited through long delays until the Department of Defense exhumed the body, tested the DNA, and declared last month that the body formerly listed as "Unknown X-481" was actually Gerald Jacobsen.

Sen. Klobuchar tells FOX 9 the Pentagon's POW/MIA Accounting Agency needs to do a better job. "Somehow these amateur researchers are able to track this down when our own defense department can't, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. So I think they need to up their game," she says.

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