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Family, friends say final goodbyes to WWII veteran who was missing for 73 years

KTUL MISSINGVETMEMORIAL 6918.Still001.jpg
Family, friends say final goodbyes to WWII veteran who was missing for 73 years

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- Friends and family were able to finally say goodbye to their loved one, after 73 years.

"He was just a full of life young fella," Norma Schneider said.

Private First Class Oscar Eugene Sappington, his family calls him Gene.

"I always thought he was handsome," Schneider said.

Schneider was just eight years old when her uncle Gene went off to war.

"He was fun loving, liked to fish and hunt, a typical young man," Schneider said.

She never thought it would be the last time she saw him.

"They would come every morning and have a prayer meeting and they would pray that the Lord would send Genie boy home," Schneider said.

Gene's family celebrated his life today, 73 years past due.

"We didn't give up hope," Schneider said. "We kept him alive in our conversations."

Gene's great-nephew Jimmy Harvey officiated the memorial.

He never met his great-uncle.

"I consider it a great honor to be able to officiate at my great-uncle's funeral," Harvey said.

Gene was killed at just 19-years-old during the Battle of the Bulge.

"His commanding officer says he saw him step on a landmine, but they were in such a heated battle they couldn't stop," Harvey said.

His remains were found in Germany a few years later, but they couldn't be identified until this year.

Now giving his family, who has lost and grown over the last 73 years, the chance to bring him home.

"He's home, he's home," Harvey said.

Gene was buried next to his mom and dad at Memorial Park Cemetery.

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