St. Paul native killed in World War II to be laid to rest Wednesday at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, public invited

Wednesday, a Twin Cities native will finally be laid to rest after giving his life in World War II.

Following a decades-long effort to identify his remains, Sgt. Donald Duchene will be buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery after his body arrived home last week.

Wednesday at 1 p.m., Duchene’s family can experience the closure never thought they’d get.

Duchene’s body arrived home Friday, 79 years after his death. He enlisted in the military when he was 18, and in 1943, his plane was shot down in Romania during a mission called ‘Operation Tidal Wave.’

His family never expected to see his body come home, but forensic anthropologists with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) were able to use the family’s DNA to positively identify Duchene.

“It’s really our moral obligation and our sacred duty to find these service members and find them home,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sean Everette, a spokesperson for the DPAA. “Not just for their sake, but for their families who have had someone missing and have had questions going on 80 years.”

Family members are encouraging anyone who wants to come pay their respects to attend the formal goodbye, which will include a full military fly over and military honors. They say this story is much bigger than their family and is a story for the country and for all veterans who have served.

“This is very important to me, the work that they’ve done, and I think it starts with the military and them not wanting to leave someone behind and the dignity we’ve seen throughout the process,” said Diane Erickson, Duchene’s niece.