A World War II soldier's remains are coming home to Minnesota.
Army Pvt. John P. Sersha, a 20-year-old from Leoneth, will be buried with full military honors in Eveleth over Memorial Day weekend – nearly 72 years after he went missing, according to a news release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Sersha was assigned to Company F, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment as part of Operation Market Garden. He was one of three "Bazooka Men" sent out to assault the Germans who controlled Kiekberg Woods in the Netherlands on Sept. 27, 1944.
But he and the two other "Bazooka Men" didn't return from battle, and several soldiers said Sersha had been killed – but his body wasn't found.
On April 12, 1948, the American Graves Registration Command recovered two sets of remains from an isolated grave in the Kiekberg Woods. One of the remains was identified, but the other – believed to be Sersha, but officials couldn't confirm it – was buried at the United States Military Cemetery at Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium.
Then last December, at the request of Sersha's family, the unidentified remains were exhumed. Officials used DNA, which matched Sersha's nephew and brother, along with dental and anthropological analysis, laboratory analysis and circumstantial evidence to identify Sersha.
Sersha's nephew Dick Lohry spoke with the Fay Observer last month about what led to the family's recent push to find his remains. In 2005, Lohry was given a photo of his uncle's name listed on a memorial at a cemetery in Europe, and that renewed his efforts to identify his uncle.
More about Sersha
Sersha was born on April 24, 1924, and lived in Leoneth, which is an area of Eveleth in northeastern Minnesota, according to his obituary.
Before joining the U.S. Army in 1943, he worked for the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railroad Company. He trained in Texas before he was sent to Maryland, where he was assigned to the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment. From there, he went to Europe for the war.
A visitation is scheduled for Friday from 4-7 p.m. at the Bauman-Cron Funeral Home in Virginia, Minnesota, with a funeral service set for Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church.
Interment with full military honors will be held at the Eveleth Cemetery following the ceremony.
Roughly 16 million Americans served in World War II – 400,000 were killed, including 7,800 Minnesotans, according to the Minnesota Historical Society and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.