August 18

Decades Ago, a Soldier Left Nashville, Now He’s Finally Home


A Nashville man left home to serve his country in World War II decades ago. Last Tuesday, August 15, he finally arrived home. The story of this man serve as a hope for families that are still waiting for closure.

“What message does it send the young people who are getting ready to enlist that my country will not forget me?” asked Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder. “My country will do everything they can to bring me home.”

Decades Ago, a Soldier Left Nashville, Now He’s Finally Home 1

What happened at the Nashville International Airport last Tuesday has a great importance according to Grinder. Everybody paused as they watched the remains of Staff Sergeant William Turner arrived in casket draped with the National flag. After nearly 75 years, his remains finally returned to his home city.

Nazi German invaded Netherlands in 1940. The Dutch forces surrendered after the bombing of Rotterdam. Turner and five other American crew members flew out on a bombing raid when they were still under the German occupation. It was near Amsterdam where his plane was shot down.

Royal Netherlands Army Recovery and Identification Unit excavated the crash site decades later. They turned over human remains to the U.S. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory identified Turner.

“We do not give up the effort,” Grinder said. “We try to make sure we live up to the promise that we never leave a comrade behind.”

Turner was one of 15 missing-in-action soldiers from past wars returned to Tennessee in five years according to Grinder. She added that there were five from the Vietnam War, five from North Korea War, and five form World War II. Grinder also said that continued DNA examination and the cooperation of foreign governments has helped the identifications continue.

“He has earned a dignified burial, and we will give him no less,” Grinder said. “This is a man who gave his life in service of his country for our freedom and for other countries as well.”

Do not give up hope, this was the advice of Grinder for other families of other missing-in-action soldiers

“Every year, every day of the year, they wait for that knock on the door with the news that their loved one has been found,” she said. “They try to always maintain the hope, and they did for many, many years. Most of them will admit they did come to a point they did give up hope, and they never really thought the day would come. I would encourage them to not give up as difficult as that may be. If they’ve not already submitted DNA to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Team, they should do so to make sure that when the time comes, remains are found. They can be more quickly identified.”

Gov. Bill Haslam has declared a day of mourning next Tuesday, Aug. 22, where flags will be ordered at half-staff. Graveside service for Turner will be at Nashville National Cemetery at 1420 Gallatin Pike S in Madison at 10 a.m. the same day.

All we can say is thank you Sergeant Turner for your bravery and thank you for you service. Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below and share this story to other country fans.


Nashville, Soldier

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