(CBS) — After more than 70 years, the remains of a World War II soldier from Chicago are coming home next week, after his family battled the U.S. Defense Department in court to make it happen.
When Doug Kelder was a child, he says he’d visit his grandmother in her Norwood Park home and look at the photograph on the wall.
“And I always asked, ‘Who is that? What happened?’ As soon as I’d ask those questions, my grandmother would have tears in her eyes,” he tells WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller.
The photograph pictured Bud Kelder, who survived the Bataan Death March in 1942 but died later that year while he was a prisoner of war.
For decades, his remains were officially unidentified. But Doug Kelder says the family had proof and went to court against the Pentagon. Finally, the Defense Department agreed to disinter Bud Kelder’s remains in Hawaii.
Next week, his nephew, Doug, will accompany the remains home.
“The Department of the Army has not been invited to any of the services whatsoever. And that is simply in lieu of, politely to say it, the runaround that we got over 72 years,” he says.
A U.S. Defense Department spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, offered this response to WBBM:
“The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is dedicated to providing the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation. We are very pleased that Pvt. Kelder is coming home and will be returned to his family for burial.”