Milwaukee VA Medical Center
WWII Veteran finally laid to rest
Almost 75 years after making the ultimate sacrifice for his country, Army Pfc. Vincent J. Ferrara finally was laid to rest.
Ferrara, whose remains were identified through DNA and other analysis, was buried Wednesday at Wood National Cemetery on the Milwaukee VA campus following a somber, but also joyous ceremony, with family members.
“It means closure for our family,” said Ferrara’s nephew, Vince Wojtech, who was named after his uncle. “I grew up hearing about my uncle and always felt his presence. He was a good kid. He loved his mom, loved his family and he loved his country. He sacrificed his life for it.”
Ferrara was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). He reportedly was badly wounded during battle in the Hürtgen Forest, near Germeter, Germany. Later efforts to locate Ferrara were unsuccessful and he subsequently was listed as missing in action on Nov. 14, 1944.
A set of remains was recovered by the American Graves Registration Command in 1947 in the Hürtgen Forest, but efforts to identify the remains were unsuccessful. They were interred under the designation of X-5440 Neuville at what is now the Ardennes American Cemetery, the DPAA said.
Additional review of military records and documentation suggested that the remains might be those of Ferrara. The remains were disinterred in June 2017 and sent to DPAA for further analysis.
DNA provided by maternal nephews, Jim Wojtech and Vince Wojtech, helped determine that the remains designated as X-5440 were those of Ferrara, a native of Chicago who died at the age of 19.
“There was enough because there were almost full skeletal remains,” Vince Wojtech said. “They gave him an X-number and put him in a grave for future identification. A couple years ago, my brother Jim and I gave our DNA samples, and through those DNA samples, they were able to identify my uncle and bring him home.”
Ferrara’s remains, which were flown to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport on Monday, were escorted from the funeral home to the cemetery Wednesday by Patriot Guard riders. An Army honor guard removed the flag-draped casket from the hearse. Ferrara was given a 21-gun salute and an Army bugler played taps.
“This is why we’re here,” said cemetery technician Aaron Dishaw, also an Army Veteran. “The Army, we have the warrior ethos, and that’s to never leave a fallen comrade. It’s just the Army upholding their end and bringing him home.”
Among the family members in attendance was Ferrara’s sister, Rosemary Ferrara, his only surviving sibling.
“It’s a joyous occasion for our family,” Vince Wojtech said. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for us, but we’re extremely pleased. I wish my mom and her family could all be here, but I think they’re having a four-day celebration up on the Italian side of heaven right now.”