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WWII airman laid to rest decades after death

Lt. Shank was a pilot in the military because of his experience flying planes before serving...
Lt. Shank was a pilot in the military because of his experience flying planes before serving his country, according to Fretwell.(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 14, 2018 at 5:56 PM EDT
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A World War II airman killed during a mission in Germany was laid to rest during a ceremony at Woodbine Cemetery on Saturday.

1st Lt. William W. Shank of Harrisonburg was considered missing in action after he never returned from a 1943 dog fight. In March, the U.S. Military

it identified his remains.

Lt. Shank was returned to his family for a burial with full military honors.

"I'm in awe," Mark Miller, Lt. Shank's nephew, said. "This is amazing. I mean, we finally found him."

Lt. Shank was an uncle, a soldier and a musician, according to members of his family.

Jack Fretwell, another one of Lt. Shank's nephews, said he feels a connection to his uncle through music.

"Well, my daughter is the violinist. It was a natural," Fretwell said.

Oh Shenandoah

was performed during the ceremony, which Fretwell said was a song Lt. Shank liked.

"It was emotional. I've got to admit: all my adult life, I have missed Bill," Fretwell said.

Miller was moved by the military's efforts.

"I definitely wanted a military presence here. I think it's wonderful the military is doing all this," Miller said. "There's a group of Vietnam vets that actually one of the gentleman contacted me a few days ago (to come to the service) and I said by all means."

For Lt. Shank's family, it was a moment to cherish.

"It's bringing it all to a close. But it's been a wonderful experience," Miller said.