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SANDY — A Utahn killed during World War II is finally getting a proper goodbye.
Army 2nd Lt. Lynn Hadfield was flying an A-26 Invader over Germany when the plane was shot down on March 21, 1945. Hadfield, 26, was killed along with two other crew members.
On Tuesday afternoon, Hadfield’s remains were finally returned to Utah.
Charles Thudium, a volunteer with History Flight, helps to locate and return the remains of Americans killed in wars. He and his team went to Germany in late 2016 to search for Hadfield’s A-26.
“We were there for 30 cold days, and every bucket that comes out of the hole is hand-screened,” Thudium said.
Thudium said people in the village knew the bomber had crashed in a field. When volunteers arrived, Thudium said, they could see airplane debris. They began digging and found more.
“DNA and bone fragments are wonderful, but if you have a personal effect, it really means a lot more,” Thudium said.
After digging 18 feet, the group found Hadfield’s dog tags, then his flight wings.
“The flight wings, I think, were the big one. The dog tags were fine, but the flight wings were here,” Thudium said, patting his chest.
During the dig, several people from the village stopped by, including one man who they never would have expected.
“We had an old guy come out to the gate, ‘Can I come in?’, ‘Yes, yes’ ... a Messerschmitt pilot from World War II," Thudium said. "He didn’t think that we’d allow him in because he was the enemy. I gave him a hug. It was really cool. Everybody wants closure, no matter what side you’re on,”
Hadfield’s remains were returned to Utah on March 19. He will be buried with full military honors Thursday — 74 years to the day after his death — at the Utah Veterans Memorial Park in Bluffdale.