79 years later: Once Unidentified World War II Staff Sergeant is brought home to his family

Staff Sgt. William Wood's remains are reunited with his family 79-years after his death.
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 11:26 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A reunion like no other.

A once unidentified World War II hero, Staff Sgt. William O Wood’s remains arrived at the Tallahassee airport Friday and was escorted off the plane with honors.

And our cameras were there to capture it all.

It’s been 79 years since Staff Sgt. Wood died in World War II and his family never truly got closure. That all until they were reunited with him Friday. A moment they say they never saw coming.

”Nope. I never did. To me this was just a story in my family. I never thought, not one time that this would ever happen,” shared Staff Sgt. Wood’s great nephew Jeff Barton.

For the longest time, his family says Staff Sgt. Wood was more of a myth. They say they used to hear stories of the Valdosta native who was a gunner on a B-24 Liberator.

”All of our lives nobody really knew him. He was just a story and some pictures my grandmother had and just a twinkle in her eye we saw when she told stories of him,” Barton explained.

But now that he’s here, the connection is finally complete.

And there’s a sense of gratitude that Staff Sgt. Wood will finally get the recognition he deserves.

”He’s a true American hero. I mean he was willing to put his life on the line for our freedom,” exclaimed Barton.

As the plane made it’s way to dock, almost eighty years of uncertainty finally became a reality as Barton watched his great uncle get escorted in honors.

”I’m just overwhelmed by it all. We’re very humbled by it and by all the dignity, and respect this army has shown to these soldiers and this is 79 years later,” said Barton.

A reunification the family says should make for a one of a kind funeral service.

”It’s just a wonderful thing. It’s going to be one of the most joyous funerals I’ve ever been to let’s put it that way,” described Baton. “So, it’s a somber occasion but it’s very joyous for us.”

Staff Sgt. Wood making his final rest back home where he belongs.

Staff Sgt. Wood will be interred into the Tallahassee National Cemetery by Bevis Funeral Home on Monday August 1st.

That’s the same day he died 79-years ago.

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