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Remains of South Mississippi WWII soldier finally laid to rest

The remains of a soldier killed during World War II were brought back to his hometown after 80 years.
Published: Apr. 9, 2022 at 8:02 PM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - The remains of a soldier killed during World War II were brought back to his hometown after 80 years.

Pvt. Andrew Ladner’s remains were finally laid to rest at Wolf River Cemetery on Saturday. State Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders Roger Barrett said around 30 members of PGR attended the ceremony to pay tribute to Ladner and his family.

“It is a thrill for us to be a part of bringing him home,” Barret said.

In 1942, Ladner was assigned to the 126th infantry regiment. That November, his unit was part of the effort to cut off Japanese supply and communication lines coming from their beachhead at Sanananda Village, Territory of Papua, on the island of New Guinea. Casualties assistant officer Lt. David Leiva said the battle was deadly.

“They went through hell. The Japanese were prepared and a unit that started with 3,500 was decimated,” Leiva explained.

They were successful on their mission, but unfortunately, Ladner along with other soldiers died while serving their country. For decades, his family mourned his death without being able to lay him to rest.

“The battle was so hellish that they couldn’t do what they do today where we send them back. The unit had to continue fighting. They probably buried him at night, 26 feet off the road,” Leiva said.

His niece Voetress Ladner was only 12 years old when he died. She recalls growing up thinking he was her brother. Voetress is happy that her paternal uncle is back home, but she always hoped he would come back alive.

“What makes his story a tat bit unique is he was bit older than other soldiers. He wasn’t drafted, he volunteered. He was a true American hero,” Leiva said.

Ladner’s name is recorded on the wall of the missing at the Manila American ceremony and memorial. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been found.

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