Fallen WWII soldier buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery nearly 80 years after his death

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — An American soldier declared Missing In Action is finally at rest in Rochester nearly 77 years after he died in World War II.

His story goes from Rochester to Europe to Nebraska to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester,

His name was Army Private Charles Andrews. He was born in Rochester and was 25 when his status was changed from Missing in Action December 4, 1944 to Killed in Action a year later.

He was laid to rest surrounded by family at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester Saturday afternoon.

Army Pvt. Charles Andrews was declared killed in action during battle in Brandenburg, Germany.

Unidentified remains were found near Brandenburg two years later. Those remains were buried as "unknown soldier" at Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium in 1950, where they stayed for 69 years until May 2019.

Sergeant Mitchell Ryan, a forensic photographer with the U.S. Army, wors on recovery operations.

"When you have a piece of skull in your hand, you’re like, ‘Okay. Yeah, this is…we did it." You know? We’re bringing someone home," said Sgt. Ryan.

He added, "The most important person that will go on one of these recovery operations is our soil research expert. They’re the anthropologist, and they’re basically going to be the backbone of the mission. They’re going to dictate where you dig, how you dig, and how often you’re basically gonna put shovel to dirt."

After extensive anthropological digging, the remains were transferred from Belgium to an Air Force base in Nebraska.

There, through circumstantial evidence as well as dental, anthropological, and DNA analysis, the remains were identified as Pvt. Charles Andrews.

John McMullen, a ride captain with the Patriot Guard Riders, was there as Private Andrews arrive at his final resting place.

McMullen said, "For our country to able to identify and bring back our deceased that fought for our freedom 70 years later, it just amazes me. And it amazes most of the people who care about the military."

"We are honestly there just to honor their fallen and to honor their family for the service of their loved one," McMullen explained.

"Giving closure to the families is very important. That’s one of our…it actually has to do with our motto, our agency motto: It’s ‘fulfilling our nation’s promise, and our nation’s promise is to never leave a fallen comrade behind,’" said Sgt. Ryan.

Pvt. Andrews’ name is now recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery. A rosette will be placed next to his name there to indicate that, after missing for nearly 80 years, he has finally come home.