Thick clouds in a sheet of grey set the background of an intimate ceremony Friday afternoon in honor of an Anderson man killed during WWII.
Recently identified, Army Staff Sgt. William Rufus “Bud” Linder was given full honors and his remains were buried at M.J. “Dolly” Cooper Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Anderson.
Melanie Hitt, from Fountain Inn, said she glad to see her great uncle’s remains finally brought home after the work of her mother Esther Linder, who sent in her DNA sample to help identify him.
Hitt recalled hearing family stories for years that Linder’s mother always wished he’d be brought home.
“Lord, we are so glad you brought him home,” Hitt said in an opening prayer.
Around 70 family members, veterans and community members filled the benches of the outdoor pavilion, some wiping away tears as Hitt finished her prayer.
“We still have Americans left behind, but thank God we have not given up on finding them, identifying them, and bringing them home” said the Rev. Wilton Fowler.
Fowler said Friday was a day of rejoicing since a comrade in arms could come home.
Linder’s two remaining nieces and his nephew were able to attend the funeral along with their families.
“This means everything to me because this has taken a long time,” Linder’s niece, Norma J. Araujo said.
Araujo was six years old when she last saw Linder and remembered him as the tallest thing she’d ever seen.
Araujo accepted the flag and letter from S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster on behalf of her family.
Linder was killed during the longest battle the U.S. fought
Linder was reported missing in action on Nov. 16, 1944 during the four-month Battle of the Hürtgen Forest in Germany, it was the longest battle the U.S. Army ever fought.
A 30-year-old at the time, Linder was never listed as a prisoner of war and was considered presumably dead a year after he was reported as missing.
A historian working on accounting for prisoners and missing soldiers determined that a set of unidentified remains could belong to Linder.
The remains were found in 1947 by local residents after a forest fire and were not positively identified until after they were unearthed in April 2019 and sent for further testing at a Defense Pow/MIA Accounting Agency lab in Nebraska, according to the Army account of the process.
Linder was identified using circumstantial evidence along with dental anthropological, mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome DNA analysis, according to the Army, and now it has been determined that he was killed in action on Nov. 17, 1944.
Burying William “Bud” Linder
As Linder’s remains were taken to the ceremony, around a hundred people lined up outside the Gray Mortuary in West Pelzer and along the main street in Williamston to pay tribute to Linder as the procession passed through.
About 3,700 veterans and 4,540 people have been buried at the M.J. “Dolly” Cooper Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Administrative Specialist Jennifer L. Gundry said.
With a decade of experience at the cemetery, Gundry said that seeing WWII veterans put to rest is rare, especially since Linder was killed in action.
At a memorial for missing and unaccounted soldiers in Hombourg, Belgium, Linder’s name will now be accompanied with a rosette, indicating that he is now identified.
For additional information about Staff Sgt. Linder, go to https://www.dpaa.mil/News-Stories/News-Releases/PressReleaseArticleView/Article/2791119/soldier-accounted-for-from-world-war-ii-linder-w/
To learn more about the Department of Defense’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, www.facebook.com/dodpaa, or call (703) 699-1420/1169
Mike Ellis lives in Powdersville and tells South Carolina stories with a focus on Anderson County and Pickens County along with faith and investigations. He’s always looking for the next story that people need to read, please send any tips or feedback to [email protected]
Sarah Sheridan is the community reporter in Anderson. She’d appreciate your help telling important stories; reach her at [email protected] or on twitter @saralinasher.