WWII Montana Airman Returns home - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

WWII Montana Airman Returns home

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HELENA -

A Montana airman who was killed in action during WWII will be laid to rest Friday in his hometown of Augusta.

ABC FOX Montana met with the niece of 1st Lieutenant William D. Bernier to find out who he was. 

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Many times we hear about the brave soldiers who were killed in WWII, but this is a story about a soldier who, after 70 years, is finally coming home.

Sandy Jone's grandma always knew her son would come home.

"My grandmother was sure he was coming home," Sandy said. "Right up to the end--he just knew--She just wasn't going to accept it because that's the way she was."

The only way Sandy came know her uncle was through a picture hanging in her hallway.

"When you hear about somebody for years and years and years...and you don't really know who they are...you just want to meet them," Sandy said. 

Two days after the attack at Pearl Harbor, 1st Lieutenant William Bernier joined the United States Air Force just shortly after Sandy was born.

"He must have just said 'I'm going'," Sandy said. "To me he's a hero."

But before he became 1st Lieutenant Bernier, he was Laddie.

"Everybody called him Laddie," Sandy said. "No one ever called him Bill or William...it's was just Laddie."

Laddie grew up on his family's ranch in Augusta, Montana.

"I went out to the farm in Augusta every summer," Sandy said. "It was a nice place out there, so I kind of envy what he could've had."

He went away to study at Montana State University, and wanted nothing more than to become a rancher after returning from the war.

"I'm sure it was absolutely what he thought of when you're at war and you're thinking of those things," Sandy "I'm that's what he thought of as absolute home and what he was looking forward to."

1st Lieutenant Bernier served as a bombardier on a 12 man crew of a B-24 Liberator Bomber. His last mission would be April 10, 1944 when his aircraft was shot down near Hansa Bay of Papa New Guinea. But 70 years later, Sandy's grandma was right. Laddie is coming home.

"I'm just so happy to finally bring him home," Sandy said. "To me that's the crowning moment--I get to finish all of this, and say 'grandma I brought him home'."

Bernier's remains are scheduled to arrive in Billings tomorrow evening, and on Friday a memorial service will be held at the Augusta cemetery in the veteran's section.

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