Remains of WWII soldier to be returned to family in Utah

Nov 19, 2019, 6:26 AM
In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, photo, Helen Lower Simmons poses for a portrait at her home in Logan, Utah, while holding a photograph of her brother, Max Wendell Lower, taken while he served in the Army Air Forces during World War II. The remains of the solider reported missing in action during World War II will soon be returned to his family in Utah, thanks to DNA technology. (Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP)
(Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP)

LOGAN, Utah (AP) — The remains of a solider reported missing in action during World War II will soon be returned to his family in Utah thanks to DNA technology.

Helen Lower Simmons of Logan expects to receive the remains of her older brother this week, The Deseret News reported.

Sgt. Max Wendell Lower was 23 when he was killed during an attack by U.S. Army Air Force bombers on oil refineries in Romania in August 1943, Simmons said.

DNA testing identified Lower’s remains last month and he is expected to be honored at a memorial ceremony in the same Lewiston cemetery where his parents are buried.

For years, Simmons and her family wondered what happened to her brother.

“There wasn’t a day that his name wasn’t coming up,” Simmons, now 90, recalled. “We were always looking for little clues.”

After the raid, residents buried his body and others. The U.S. military later moved the bodies to Belgium where they remained in storage until 2017, when a genealogist began searching for the families of the soldiers.

Simmons and her younger brother submitted DNA samples and last month the testing provided a positive match.

“There’s just a hole when somebody is missing like that,” said Stephen Simmons, Lower’s nephew. “For everybody, even those who didn’t know him, I think it brings a lot of peace.”

The remains of U.S. Marine Robert James Hatch also will be returned to Utah for a planned burial in Bountiful. Hatch died in the Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific Theater.

“I always felt a little uncomfortable with him being there, because being buried here in Bountiful he’d be here with his family, in the shadow of the mountains, if you will,” said his nephew, Tom Hatch.


Information from: Deseret News,

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Remains of WWII soldier to be returned to family in Utah