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Burial service held for Kentucky soldier killed in WWII

By: Katie Roach, Tanner Hesterberg, Whitney Burks, Hillary Thornton Email
By: Katie Roach, Tanner Hesterberg, Whitney Burks, Hillary Thornton Email
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FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE by Hillary Thornton 6/8/13

They say they take care of their own and family members of a soldier who was killed in World War II say that is exactly what the military has done after the remains of their loved one were discovered nearly seventy years later.

On Saturday, a full military burial service was held at Davidson Memorial Gardens in Floyd County to honor that hero.

1st Lieutenant Robert Meacham says, "It is not every day that MIAs are found and that is special for the family and it's a special thing for us as soldiers to be a part of something 69 years in the making, to be able to lay Sgt. Marshall to rest. I know that we would want the same thing for our families if the roles were reversed and we were Sgt. Marshall."

Floyd County native, Sgt. Charles Robert Marshall, known by most as Bob, was 19-years-old when his plane was shot down during World War II. Marshall left behind his wife, Dixie, and one-year-old son, Doc.

Marshall's widow, Dixie Ratliff Marshall Hyden explains, "It has been a long journey, 69 years...I would wake up every morning thinking, well I wonder which country my husband went down in."

After receiving word Sgt. Marshall's remains were discovered in Germany, the family now says they have closure but more importantly a sense of reunion and something visible to pay their respects to.

R.D. 'Doc' Marshall says, "Today is a total display, with the great crowd and all, that people still need something to believe in."

Those that came to pay respects at the burial say the amount of support shown exemplifies the strong support of the military throughout the nation but also exemplifies the strong military heritage in Eastern Kentucky.

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says, "Kentucky has a proud heritage, Floyd County and the mountain counties have a proud heritage, and it is just another piece of that heritage coming today."

"Bob's and our generation is practically all gone but it shows you people in America....they still love America," says Dixie.

Now, this hero is laid to rest and his family can rest easy knowing exactly where their loved one is.

House Speaker Stumbo and Senator Johnny Ray Turner presented a citation from both the Kentucky House and Senate, honoring the family and the return of Sgt. Marshall's body.
UPDATE by Whitney Burks 6/7/13

It was a day they thought would never come.

Charles Robert Marshall was a soldier from Floyd County who served in World War II, but his plane was shot down and his body never recovered until recently.

Friday Sgt. Marshall's family members say they finally have a measure of peace.

For 69 years they waited and wondered.

"It was always in the back of your mind what would life have been like with your biological father," said R.D. 'Doc' Marshall.

On Friday the family of Charles Robert Marshall got their closure.

"This is the culmination of what we've prayed about, hoped, and really just to be honest with you never dreamed that it would happen," said Doc Marshall.

Marshall enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

His plane was shot down but his body never recovered until recently.

He was brought back to Kentucky on Wednesday, and two days later given the memorial he deserved.

"It's been joyful just to know that he's back on American soil because that's where he would want to be," said Sgt. Marshall's widow Dixie Ratliff Marshall Hyden.

It was an evening family members say was not a time for sadness.

"Sixty-nine years ago was sad. It was tragic. But we're here this evening to celebrate," said Doc Marshall.

An American hero home at last.

Sgt. Marshall's burial will be Saturday at Davidson Memorial Cemetery in Ivel at 11 a.m.

UPDATE by Tanner Hesterberg 6/5/13

The body of a Floyd County soldier killed in World War II arrived back on American soil Wednesday.

Charles Robert Marshall, 19, was a member of the US Army Air Corps when his plane was shot down over Germany in July 1944.

Nearly 70 years passed before Marshall's body was found by a German man.

Marshall's remains were flown to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, where family members witnessed an Honor Guard escorting the remains off the plane.

"It was a very emotional ceremony," said R.D. "Doc" Marshall, who was one year old when his father, Sgt. Marshall, was killed. "It's just been an incredible journey and it all culminated today when finally my dad got to come home.

The younger Marshall is also the Floyd County judge executive.

A memorial service with full military honors will be held Friday at seven p.m. at Hall Funeral Home in Martin.

Burial will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. at Davidson Memorial Gardens in Allen.


Original Story by Katie Roach, 5/31/13:

PRESTONSBURG, Ky (WYMT) - It's a love story almost 70 years in the making. Two 19-year-old's living in Martin, Kentucky with a one-year-old son.

A graduate of Martin High School Charles Robert Marshall, who most people knew as Bob, was a 19-year-old with dreams of becoming an aeronautical engineer. But after his first semester at Duke he felt his patriotic calling to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps and fight for his country in World War II.

"The night before he left to go we went to the jewelry store, and he picked this bracelet up and asked if he could get some names on it. About 10 minutes, he had Dixie and Bob on the bracelet," said his widow Dixie Ratliff Marshall Hyden. "He put it on in the jewelry store and said when I come home I will take this off."

Dixie was also 19. Their son, now the Floyd County Judge-Executive was only a year old.

"He didn't deserve to be over in another country," Dixie said.

Floyd County Judge-Executive Doc Marshall's father was a waist gunner on a B-24 Bomber. On July 21, 1944 his plane was shot down. His body was never recovered. Sergeant Marshall was never given a proper hero's burial. His widow would never see that bracelet again.

Sergeant Marshall was "Missing in Action" for three years. Dixie says they declared him dead after they couldn't find him.

"It's just hard to realize that things are not going to be as you planned," said said.

For more than 60 years his family never even knew what country he died in.

But, four years ago Doc Marshall's phone rang.

"He said I am a German citizen calling from Germany. And he said I have reason to believe that I have discovered or stumbled upon the possibility of where your father might have been killed," said Doc Marshall.

He wondered if the phone call was too good to be true.

But, Doc Marshall says Markus Mooser from Germany kept in touch through phone calls and emails updating him with new information.

Eventually he would learn about human bones and even plane fragments that were found.

The pieces started adding up, and military officials told him there was enough evidence to do a search and recovery.

DNA samples were taken, and for one year a team went to Sternberg, Germany to excavate the area.

It was news they never thought they would hear, Sergeant Charles Marshall's remains had been recovered.

"It's took four years, but it took 69 years before that," said Doc Marshall.

"It means everything. You know you always wonder everyday what might have been or something, but it's good to know and just let it go now," said Dixie.

Military officials came to their house to deliver the artifacts found at the scene. They delivered Sergeant Marshall's Dog tags, and yes, a bracelet missing for almost 70 years.

It was finally back in the hands of the person Sergeant Marshall left behind, and now the family is finally able to give this hero all the respect he deserves.

Dixie Ratliff Marshall Hyden did re-marry after her first husband died, but her family never forgot Sergeant Marshall.

Doc Marshall's office is full of pictures and his father's purple heart.

The family will have a memorial service with full military honors next Friday at 7:00 p.m.

The burial will take place Saturday, June 8th at 11:00 a.m. at Davidson Memorial Gardens.

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