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WWII vet honored in hometown before being laid to rest

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Hedtke Ceremony

IOLA, Wis. (WAOW)-- Iola's William D. Hedtke served in the Army as a private during World War II as part of the 319th Glider Artillery Battalion and 82nd Airborne Division.

He died in the Netherlands in 1944, and his remains were not recovered until nearly two years ago.

That's what brought everyone to a small ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park Saturday: honoring a soldier who fought for his country.

"It's great that we could bring his memory back to us, and the family is all here with us today and we enjoyed that," Former American Legion Post 14 Commander Eugene Knutson said.

"I find it very rewarding to be able to participate in something like this," current Post 14 Commander David Leder said.

"It gives us a chance to honor those that for the longest time were forgotten about because they didn't know where they were. They knew they were here, but they didn't know where they were lain," Leder added.

Private Hedtke was declared Missing-In-Action during Operation Market garden. It was originally reported he had died while landing a glider. However, later reports showed he was executed by Axis forces.

Leder says this ceremony, pushed back more than a year because of the pandemic, allows for Hedtke's family to get closure and celebrate his accomplishments.

"I think it's a sense of pride in their family member that was there--that served and did what he needed to do during the war."

Hedtke is a two-time Purple Heart, and will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in August.

Isak Dinesen

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