World War II hero from Pontiac finally laid to rest

Posted at 4:53 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 16:53:29-04

It's been 72 years since Second Lt. Robert Ward has returned home to Pontiac. He joined the military at age 18 after World War II began.

During the Battle of the Bulge, Ward was the co-pilot of a plane shot down by German forces just days before Christmas in 1944.

The plane crashed near Philippsweiler, Germany. He and pilot died. Seven other crew members escaped the crash.

Ward was only 22.

"I remember when they came to the door and knocked on the door to ask for my grandparents and when they found out," David Ward said. "I remember my grandfather used to sit next to the radio and listen to the news of what was going in the War, day in and day out."

David Ward was only 5 years old when his Uncle Robert died. He is one of two remaining family members that met Ward.

A team from the Defense Department began the search for Ward's remains in 2009. They found the remains about five years ago and DNA tests confirmed the results.

The team recovered two of Ward's bones.

"Understand those people who sacrifice and honor the ones that gave up their lives and the ones that are lucky enough to come back."

Ward appreciates the military's effort to leave no one behind, even decades later, but he hopes the community can take another lesson away from his uncle's death.

"We need to mourn and honor our dead but we need to take care of the living that return."

Mourners will gather at the Sparks-Griffin funeral home in Pontiac Saturday Oct. 1 at 10 a.m.

Then the funeral procession will get a military and police escort to Oak Hill Cemetary where the burial with full military honors will take place.