The remains of a World War II soldier from West Texas were laid to rest on Monday 74 years after he went missing in action from a German battlefield. This was the result of a sister’s unwavering five decade long search to find her brother’s remains and bring them home.
“I said I would bring him home to Texas and he’s home,” said Judith Bingham about her older brother Army Private Kenneth Dayle Farris, who was drafted into the U.S. Army on January 11, 1944, when she was only four-years-old. Farris, a Dodson native, was 19-years-old. He married his high school sweetheart Emma Lee Hunt shortly before he shipped out overseas.
In late November 1944, Farris was wounded by enemy artillery fire during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, a gruesome and protracted fight to seize Rhine River crossings into Nazi Germany, according to the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA (DPAA) Accounting Agency. The young soldier left the front line for a battalion first aid station. He was never again seen. Six months after WWII ended, on November 29, 1945, army officials declared Farris dead.
When Bingham turned 15-years-old she promised her heartbroken mother she would one day locate her brother and bring him home. Over the years, Bingham, now 79, searched military records, began writing a book about Farris, and even traveled to Germany to interview former fellow servicemen for any clues about what may have happened to her brother. Bingham found few answers yet she persevered.
Then, a few years ago, a friend suggested that she and her son submit their DNA to a military database in an attempt to find Farris, Bingham told WFAA.
The DPAA stated that after WWII from 1946 to 1950 dozens of remains were recovered from the Hürtgen Forest. Those identified were buried at the U.S. Military Cemetery in Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium. The unidentified remains were interred at the Epinal American Cemetery in France. Because no remains associated with Farris were found at the time, he was declared non-recoverable on December 8, 1950. His name, though, was later identified on the Tablets of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery with other unknown WWII soldiers. Nearly 73,000 soldiers are unaccounted for from World War II.
In 2017, Farris’ remains were disinterred and sent to DPAA for DNA and dental analysis. This year, however, everything changed. On April 23, the Department of Defense notified Bingham that the family’s submitted DNA samples matched remains in the unmarked grave in the Netherlands.
On Friday, Farris’ remains arrived in a U.S. flag-draped casket at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The North Texas Patriot Guard and Dallas police escorted his remains from the airport. Then, on Monday, they accompanied the family to the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetary where the soldier received a 21-gun salute. He was buried with full military honors, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Three of Farris’ four living siblings attended his funeral. Another sister, Betty Droby, told CBSDFW: “I’d just give anything if my mother knew.”
The American Battle Monuments Commission, caretakers for the Tablets of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery, say they will place a rosette next to Farris’ grave marker to indicate the remains were accounted for and returned home.
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