The remains of a World War II veteran returned to Chattanooga for his family to say their final goodbye Friday.
U.S. Army Private First Class Cecil Harris was missing in action for about 70 years before his wife and son got the closure they needed.
Soldiers in their dress blues marched PFC Harris into his memorial at Red Bank Baptist Church. His family was somber and grieving as they remembered his easy-going nature and short life in Shelbyville, Tenn.
"As he prepared to leave he looked at Helen and he said, "I have a feeling I won't be back,'" said Reggie Asplund, the chaplain who delivered a speech about Harris' life.
Harris was just 19 years old with a young wife and baby when he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
"It was the second of January 1945. Operation Nordwind, northeastern France, town of Dambach," said Army Sergeant First Class Brandon Gulley, a presenter.
It was the Battle of the Bulge against German forces, and soon, what had happened overseas changed the lives of Harris' wife Helen Cooke and son Eddie Harris.
"The postman brought her a telegram that forever changed the course of her life," said Asplund. "It simply stated that Cecil Harris was missing in action."
It took nearly 7 decades before a French hiker near Dambach stumbled across the grave site in 2013 marked with an "H" for Harris. Military specialists found him buried with a WWII era button, lapel and dogtags. Scientists were a
"I never thought that they would ever find him, but I kept praying," said Helen Cooke, Harris' widow.
The family accepted several military honors for his courageous service, including the Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge and Purple Heart. But more so, his family said his legacy of life and love is what they will remember most.
It's a bittersweet ending to the 80-year-old widow's love story.
"It's a closure, but it's a sad closure. It will take a while to get over it, if I ever will," said Cooke.
But as the nation recognizes his duty to his country, Harris' family cherishes memories of his love for others.
"He was just really a good guy. Just full of life and just wanted to have a good time all the time laughing," said Cooke.
Harris will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in October.By Briona Arradondo