MIA WWII veteran laid to rest with military honors

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NEKOOSA, Wis. (WSAW) -- A World War II solider who had been missing for decades was brought back home to Nekoosa, Wisconsin for a funeral and burial with full military honors.

For several years, the whereabouts of World War II veteran Gerald "Bud" Wipfli were unknown. It wasn't until workers from a power company unearthed remains in 2010 while installing electrical lines in a German town. DNA was used to help identify Wipfli's remains. His family said he died in battle in Germany in November 1944.

"This is unbelievable. Seventy three years he's been gone," Betty Barth, Wipfli's sister said.

That's how long she waited to know what happened to her brother. As Wipfli's only remaining living sibling, she said having him back in Nekoosa is something she never thought she would get to see.

"I never dreamed that it would come. Ever. And everyone's been absolutely wonderful," Barth said.

"I think it was meant to be. He's home now. He's laying next to his parents and I don't think we could ask for any more," David Barth, Wipfli's nephew, added.

An Honor Guard detail helped bring the military honors at the burial.

"The precision behind what they want to do to make sure that it's right for the family is very important," casualty assistance officer Chris Spencer explained. "When you have a service member that's paid the ultimate sacrifice to allow us to have the freedoms that we have, there's no better honor."

Bringing closure after decades of uncertainty, and bringing Wipfli, an American hero, back to his home.

"It's almost indescribable," Betty Barth said. "I feel that he's with God. Most definitely. And I feel that this has all come through God."