Services set next month for newly identified WWII soldier


OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) — The public is invited to pay their respects in May to a World War II soldier from St. Landry Parish whose remains were identified nearly 80 years after his death.

Army Pvt. Hillary Soileau disappeared while on a mission to rid Guadalcanal of Japanese forces in January 1943. He was 23 years old. He was declared killed in action in December 1945.

“It is a supreme honor to help bring home someone who has been missing for 80 years,” Soileau’s nephew, Greg Badeaux, told KATC-TV.

The funeral will be held on May 21 at Sibille Funeral Home in Opelousas. A rosary will begin at 10:45 a.m., followed by services, which will conclude with burial and burial honors at Cedar Hill Cemetery in the City of Washington.

Badeaux is working with the Army and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to coordinate his uncle’s final arrangements.

“It’s amazing the attention to detail the Department of the Army and the DPAA have put into making this an honorable event,” he said.

Soileau’s remains were identified in 2020, following a forensic investigation by the DPAA. Badeaux’s mother, Mary Soileau Badeaux, is Soileau’s only living brother. She was contacted in 2018 to provide a DNA sample as the agency investigated the identity of a soldier known as “unknown X-52”, whose remains were discovered on Guadalcanal in 1943. The DNA matched.

“It was very emotional for her,” Badeaux said of her mother. “She remembered being nine or ten years old and Hillary going off to war hugging everyone and crying. And sadly, that was the last time they actually saw him.

Badeaux said the family decided to bring Soileau back to St. Landry Parish where he will be buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, which is also the resting place of Soileau’s parents, Odey and Leona Soileau, who died without knowing what happened. happened to their son.

“There are no emotions to describe what they would be going through right now, if they had the opportunity to see this come to fruition,” Badeaux said.


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