Soldier Gets Proper Funeral After 66 Years

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ADAMS TOWNSHIP, PA (WNEP) — This is a day the Hackenberg family has thought about for 66 years. It’s a funeral they did not think they’d be able to have. But here they are.

“Relief, more or less, closure,” Carl Walter said.

Private First Class Walter Hackenberg was declared dead in 1951 after being taken prisoner during the Korean War. His body was never identified until this year, thanks to DNA technology. Hackenberg’s remains were brought to the Middleburg area on Monday.

“I’m excited that he is going to be in a spot that I can go to and know that he’s there,” Stella Knepp said.

Hackenberg’s family was finally able to hold a proper funeral for their hero after 66 years.

“It’s closure and I think there’s a borderline excitement here. They get to bring Walter home. This is where he was raised, and now he’s home for good,” Staff Sgt. Damon Hassinger said.

“Now they came through and they have his body and I think it’s terrific. I didn’t think they could actually do something like what they’ve been doing,” Walter said.

Hackenberg was given a full military funeral. A military chaplain assisted during the service, and an officer presented his awards to the family. After that, an active duty honors team from Fort Indiantown Gap presided over the graveside ceremony.

“It’s a hometown guy coming home after 66 years of being missing. It’s special to all of us,” Tom Varner said.

Community members and motorcycle groups came too.

“Just bringing one guy home? It’s everything. It’s the world,” Varner said.

The service gives this family closure after 66 long years.

“It feels wonderful. It’s wonderful,” Knepp said.