“We got our boy back” Siblings of fallen WWII soldier from Middleton finally welcome him home
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Eileen Tesch and Jim Simon will always remember their childhood on Hubbard Avenue in Middleton with their big brother, Sonny.
“I remember when I had my first date, and he was more nervous than my father was,” Tesch said.
Eileen also remembers the last day she saw her big brother- the day he headed off to war.
“I was going to go in and say goodbye to him because he’d be going off and I thought cause he was sleeping and I thought, Oh, I won’t bother him,” Tesch said. “And it turned out he didn’t come back.”
In November of 1944, the Simon family received devastating news. Tesch recalled how they were eating dinner when a telegram came.
“I ran upstairs to my bedroom and I laid down and cried, I’ll be honest with you, and I cried pretty good,” Tesch said. “He was a big loss. We got along so great, he got along with everybody.”
Just 20-years-old, Private William “Sonny” Simon had been reported Killed in Action near Hurtgen, Germany. Killed in an explosion, the Army couldn’t recover or identify Sonny’s remains. His brother Jim said the hardest thing over the years was not knowing what happened to his beloved brother.
Sonny’s mother spent years desperately trying to recover his remains and bring him home to Middleton.
”She [Mother] went every place she could,” Jim Simon said. “But no answers.”
In 2012, Jim even flew to Europe to see his big brother’s name on the Walls of the Missing at Netherlands American Cemetery.
”That meant a lot. Just to see it,” Jim Simon said.
After decades with no answers, in 2019 a historian with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency suspected a set of unidentified remains found near Hurtgen, Germany, and buried at Ardennes American Cemetery, could possibly be Sonny’s. Using Jim and Eileen’s DNA, they confirmed it and told them last November.
“We got our boy back,” Tesch said. “My brother.”
”It’s a closure,” Jim Simon said. “Where before there was no closure. So it’ll be satisfying.”
Nearly 80 years after his death in World War II, Sonny is coming home and will be buried in his parish cemetery.
Tesch and Simon thanked those who made it possible in bringing their brother back home, with Jim noting that he’s grateful for everything they did in bringing Sonny home to the country he fought and died for, home to the city, and to the people he loved.
”I’m glad he is in Middleton,” Tesch said. “He always said Middleton is the best place in the whole world and he’s got a place for him to rest.”
Gov. Tony Evers ordered flags to be flown at half-staff Tuesday to honor the Middleton native on the day his funeral would be held in the city. He will be buried with full military honors at St. Bernard’s Cemetery, in Middleton. Graveside services will be performed by Gunderson Funeral and Cremation care.
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