The remains of an Iowa soldier are returning home over 60 years after he died in combat. Staff Sergeant Marvin “Steiney” Steinford of Keystone in eastern Iowa left a base in Italy aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress on a World War Two bombing mission in March of 1945.
Iowa National Guard spokesman, Colonel Greg Hapgood, says things went bad on the return trip. The bomber was damaged by German antiaircraft fire after dropping its bombs and the crew bailed out. He says two members of the crew did not get out and that included the then 22-year-old Steinford, who disappeared between the Soviet and German lines.
Steinford’s fate remained a mystery until November of 2004. Hapgood, says his remains were discovered in Hungary as workers were moving a Soviet gravesite and memorial. Workers noticed that one of the coffins was different than the others, and an examination found remains in the coffin along with Steinford’s dog tags.
Hapgood says the sensitivity of a Soviet memorial in Hungary required several years of negotiations to get the remains back to the United States. The remains were eventually positively identified as those of the Iowa soldier. Steinford’s relatives will finally see his remains laid to rest after 66-years in Cedar Rapids on June 21st following a memorial service in his honor.
Hapgood says it’s an amazing story and a credit to efforts to return Steinford home. Hapgood says if you consider the thousands of servicemen and women still missing in the various conflicts, it shows the lengths the U.S. will go to as it attempts to bring all soldiers home.
Steinford was born August 29 of 1922 and was the youngest son of Herman and Henrietta (Pohlman) Steinford. He grew up in Keystone and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on October 31, 1942. In December 1944 he deployed overseas and was assigned to the 429th Bombardment Squadron, Second Bombardment Group, 15th U.S. Air Force.
Steinford married Rosella M. Behrends on October 21, 1943, and had one daughter. He is survived by his daughter, Carol Ann (Steinford) Sansenbach, four grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and one step-great-grandchild, as well as several cousins.