Remains of WWII soldiers brought back to GR after 77 years

BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – Decades after his death, a fallen World War II Army soldier has finally been buried.

Family, friends, uniformed soldiers and veterans stood shoulder to shoulder at Winchester Cemetery in Byron Township on Saturday afternoon to honor Private First Class Donald Hofman.

Private First Class Donald Hofman

Hofman was 19 when he went missing during combat in France in January 1945. Initially, American units were unable to recover his body or others as German forces controlled the area where the battle took place.

Almost a year later, the US Army Quartermaster Corps’ American Graves Registration Command began recovering missing soldiers. Search and recovery efforts took years. Thousands of remains that were recovered could not be identified.

PFC Hofman was an unknown soldier named “X-6376” for 77 years. Thanks to advanced technology, he was recently identified and brought back to the Grand Rapids area where he came from.

His 94-year-old younger brother and retired minister, the revered Leonard Hofman, was among those attending the service.

“He’s never received much honor, but he did today,” he said. “You sometimes wonder why the Lord lets you live so long. It’s a blessing. Maybe that’s why he kept me alive.”

Sergeant Tara Gamble, Michigan Army National Guard Casualty Operations, added, “I’ve done a few repatriation cases, and honestly this is the first time I’ve had a family member that close who actually knew the service member when they were alive.” Remains of WWII soldiers brought back to GR after 77 years

Dais Johnston

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