An Iowa soldier whose death was a mystery for over six decades will be honored with services in Sioux City today (Saturday). Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood of the Iowa National Guard says the Iowa man was a crewmember aboard a B-24 when he disappeared. He says Staff Sergeant Walter Knudsen was 21 when his plane took off for a training mission on October 9th, 1944 from New Guinea and disappeared.
Knudsen was born in Nebraska, but moved to Sioux City when he was around eight. Hapgood says the airplane was found by chance in 2002. He says some villagers were out hunting in the tropical forest and found some military dogtags. Hapgood says the find spurred an investigation that led them to find the downed airplane.
Hapgood says a crew from the military’s identification lab in Hawaii went to the site and investigated. He says they spent a month at the site and recovered bone and teeth fragments and all kinds of personal effects and were able to discover the remains of all nine crewmembers. Hapgood says there’ll be a graveside service for Knudsen with full military honors one day before his birthday.
Hapgood says after talking with Knudsen’s family, “The feelings are still raw, even 60 some years later.” Hapgood says Walter was very close to his brother Harold, and Harold will attend the ceremony that Hapgood says is expected to be very emotional. The graveside service is at one p.m. Saturday.