Friends and family of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Gerald Helms held a memorial service Monday at a chapel in New Lenox following the discovery of his remains in the Netherlands.
“One of the most important things about this whole experience is just not getting him back, but getting detailed information about what happened,” said Tiffany Stuart, his full-back. – little niece. “The fact that he landed safely, was able to rejoin his unit and scouted out and never came back.”
Helms was reported missing in action in 1944 while serving as a glider pilot for the United States Army during World War II.
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In 2019, a Dutch couple who live near the German border found a foothold while digging to expand their garden. A military team in the Netherlands recovered more, including Helms’ tags. The US military made an official identification earlier this year.
“It’s really surreal to know that, people who don’t even speak the same language, but they care,” said great-great-great-niece Samantha Witt.
The couple who found Sergeant Helms attended the ceremony on Monday via a video phone link.
“There was really a lot of fighting here, but after so many years you don’t expect that at all,” said Imke Arndts, one of the Dutch landowners who discovered Helms’ remains.
“Luckily we found him so they can bring him home so he can be buried in his own area with his family,” added Micheil Arndts. “For us, it was a very small thing to do.”
“He was so far from home, fighting for our freedom, so it’s something we’ll never forget,” Imke Arndts said.
“It gives you a lot of hope that people still care and people still identify, even almost eighty years later, his return is very special,” Stuart said.
Helms was buried Monday at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery with full military honors.
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