THOMAS, W.Va. – A special memorial was held Thursday in honor of a Tucker County native killed at Pearl Harbor whose remains were finally identified earlier this year.
Patternmaker First Class Stanley Drwall’s remains were identified by federal officials in March, bringing his niece’s search for his remains to an end.
“When I found out that we could possibly find him, my mission was to bring him back and bury him in the plot that his parents wanted for him and he’s here,” said Mary Ann Ryther.
As part of the ceremony, the West Virginia Patriot Guard Riders escorted Drwall’s remains from the tarmac on the airport when they first arrived. They said it’s the least they can do to honor the veterans who served the country, especially those who gave their lives.
“We picked him up at the airport in Pittsburgh yesterday, out on the tarmac whenever he was taken off the plane, and we’ve been with him all the way, and it’s just an honor. And the Patriot Guard, I serve because my husband is a Vietnam veteran and to honor them all,” said Guard Rider State Captain Pat Dawson.
“He chose to go, and in that choice, he was killed, and all this time the family has had no closure, and it’s important for them have this, and it’s important for the family to know that he’s never going to be forgotten,” said Ride Captain Susan Whitlatch.
Members of Drwall’s family came to Thomas to join in the memorial, but many from the community came as well, including Phyllis Bayer, a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Bayer said she was glad to help the family honor their relative and hopes others will remember his sacrifice, too.
“It’s an opportunity to remind others of that service and to draw some attention to that out of respect for their, really, sacrifices,” said Bayer.
For Ryther, she and her husband are glad to see their mission come to an end, and are happy to know that the previous two generations of her family are reunited for good.
“You may see tears. My tears are just for my grandparents. It’s just very, I’m very happy that I’m finally able to bring back their son to them, and one of these days, we’re all going to be together,” Ryther said.