KEARNEY, Nebraska, –
It was a reunion made for history books; an army private lost during World War II was finally coming back home after nearly 80 years.
November of 1944, 22-year-old Lyle Reab from Phillips, Nebraska joined the army during a time where the world was at odds.
A small town boy, living in a town with a population under 500, assigned to the Army 28th Infantry Division.
He was reported missing in action on November 9, 1944, after his unit fought German Forces in Vossenack, Germany, according to Sgt. 1st Class Sean Everette.
“He was lost in the Hurtgen Forest in Germany, and when the war was over, the American Graves Registration Command, AGRC, they went to that area of Germany and they searched for remains,” said Everette.
His body, not recovered until 1950 when remains were found and laid to rest for more than 70 years until they were identified as Reab in 2018 by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
“Our mission is to research, recover and identify Americans, DOD personnel, who are still missing or unaccounted for,” said Everette.
Reab’s next of kin, a cousin who was born five years after he died, Karen Thomas was shocked to receive the phone call that his remains were finally found, but felt relief for her distant relatives
“We’re very much honored that they identified his remains and that we got contacted now. It’s sad that his mother never knew where he was at,” she said.
She said her dad, Reab’s oldest living relative, told her he has few memories of Reab as a child.
“He said he can remember their family going down there for Sunday dinner and visiting with the family and playing with Lyle,” she said.
Lyle remains a distant relative whose story remains in the past. But it can now end where it started- back in Nebraska.
On June 8, 2021, his family will have a full graveside military service for Reab in Aurora, Nebraska where he will be buried with his parents.
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