West Virginia WWII Hero Finally Comes Home

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - Helen Francisco was only three years old when three of her brothers went off to war. 

One of them, Private Shirley Eugene Bailey, did not return. Francisco said she felt that through the pain of her mother.

 "Well she cried. She really did. She cried a lot when she was home," recalled Francisco. 

Francisco's big brother Private Bailey was only 19 years old when his battalion was sent to seize the northern parts of the German Hurtgen Forest, which would turn out to be the US Army's longest and costliest battle of World War II. 33-thousand soldiers were killed, wounded and missing. On November 29, 1944, Private Bailey, an Army  medic, would be one of those statistics. During a German Counterattack, Bailey rushed forward to aid a wounded man and was killed by enemy fire.

Knowing he gave his life for another can only make a sister proud. 

"It was wonderful that he wanted to treat other people and take care of them," said Francisco.

Private Bailey died for his country during the war,  but he never made it back home.

For years and after numerous inquiry letters from Bailey's mother Margaret, Private Bailey's remains could not be positively identified.

"She worked so hard trying to find him," said Francisco of her mother's efforts.

It turns out that Bailey's remains had been moved to an isolated grave near Schlich, Germany; later to be moved to Belgium and buried as an unknown soldier.

It wasn't until 70 years later, October 2016,  that Bailey's remains were positively identified by DNA analysis, made official only two months ago by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in Nebraska - which posted a news release on November 22, 2017, the day before Thanksgiving Day.

"My mom would really be happy today. (laughing) ... yep she would ... be wonderful," said Francisco. "We've waited so long ... nephews neices ... and we're all happy ... because they've all waited that long." 

The remains of Private Bailey will be flown back to Charleston at the end of this month.

Funeral arrangements are planned. Visitation is scheduled for Saturday, December 2nd at Keller funeral home in Dunbar, West Virginia from 10:30am to 12:30pm.  A graveside service with military honors will be held at 1pm at the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery.

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