World War II Veteran Finally Makes His Way Home

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Some people wonder what happened to their loved ones in World War II all of their lives.

After 69 years, a Marion County family finally has the answer.

Eva Hinerman said there isn't a day that has gone by that she hasn't thought about her brother Sgt. Jerome Kiger. Just when she had accepted her brother may never be coming home, life had other plans.

"I didn't believe it. I told them I didn't want to hear it. It was too long ago. They're always telling senior citizens to be careful of scams and that's what I thought it was," said Eva Hinerman, sister.

But it wasn't a scam. It was real.

Sgt. Jerome Kiger was killed when his plane was shot down in Germany during World War II. His remains were missing for 69 years.

"All of these years we thought the plane had burnt and they were burnt beyond, you know," Hinerman said. "But evidently there were some remains left that didn't look like they were."

It took a DNA test for Hinerman to finally believe it was true.

"It came out and thought it has to be true," she said.

It was a rush of emotions for the entire family.

"At first we went through a grieving process," said Donna Renner, niece.

Then the focus changed to getting Sgt. Kiger's remains home to Mannington.

Kiger's remains traveled from Hawaii to Pittsburgh and was escorted from there to Mannington by the West Virginia Patriot Guard.

"It was a day that we will never forget. It was a day that our kids that experienced it will remember forever," Renner said.

"I was never so proud of anything in my life. Never. Never. I was so proud of him," Hinerman said.

Fire departments, emergency personnel, law enforcement, and about 80 Patriot Guard Riders led Sgt. Kiger home.

The family said it is overwhelmed with the support it has received.

"Often times you get a little mad at your country or a little upset. When we reached the Gateway Connector I was never more proud to be an American," Renner said.

"Everybody. I love you, I pray for you. That's all you need. You just need that help of other people," Hinerman agreed.

Hinerman has been leaving flowers on her brother's grave in Mannington for years.

"My mother goes to the graveyard and she puts a wreath on Jerome's grave and her mother and fathers grave. This coming Memorial Day and Christmas and other holidays, Jerome is actually going to be there," Renner said.

He hasn't been home long but Hinerman said it already feels different.

"I slept good last night. Really good," Hinerman said.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has declared Sunday Jerome E. Kiger day in West Virginia.

Governor Tomblin has asked that all federal and state flags be flown at half-staff.

Be sure to tune in to 12 News on Sunday for Sgt. Kiger's military funeral.


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