WWII sailor returns home to Texas with hero’s welcome 78 years later

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A Texoma family is now closer to giving a Navy sailor who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor a burial at home.

The family of Bethel Walters returned from Hawaii Wednesday with the remains that have been unidentified for more than 78 years.

A group of Bowie residents gathered with Mayor Bill Miller at the Dairy Queen on Wise Street on the sunny Texas morning, awaiting the arrival of the procession that finally brought Fireman 1st Class Walters of the USS West Virginia home.

For veterans in the Bowie community like Don Schenck and Bill Enlow, this was an ideal way to spend the morning.

“Just an honor to be here and to welcome him back home,” Schenck said. “We’re thankful for everyone to come out and all the people who seen the funeral procession coming from DFW back home to Bowie.”

For Enlow, being there for a fallen hero is the least people can do for those who give their lives to serve America.

“To honor him in this fashion, I think, is proper,” Enlow said. “We owe him much more than we can repay because of the sacrifice he paid for our country, and I don’t think we could do enough really to honor the individual.”

Mike Johnson is with the North Texas patriot guard riders and was blown away with the support they saw on the trip.

“There were a lot of people on the side of the road, the flags honoring this young gentleman, his remains as we brought him home, the overpasses had people on them, a lot of people beside the road,” Johnson said.

Seeing the outpouring from the community to honor Walters was emotional for all involved.

“Seeing it all happen, I did got teary-eyed, it’s an emotional moment and you feel happy inside,” family friend Shane Mercer said.

“It gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that people care, still honor our military,” Johnson said.

Mercer will perform music at the funeral Saturday and knows this will help finally put the Walters family at ease.

“Knowing the family they can finally rest and be proud,” Mercer said.

After all this time, Walters returned home to Texas to a hero’s welcome.

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