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Following the identification of her father’s remains, the daughter of a WWII veteran from Richmond talks



Indianapolis, Indiana – Her father was never known to Anne Walker Collingwood.

Only a few months after Collingwood was born in 1944, his father, Richmond-based U.S. Army Second Lt. Gene Walker, was killed in action during World War II.

“I just drifted through life for 79 years, not knowing a whole lot about my father,” she said.

However, Collingwood never would have imagined that she would be able to arrange her father’s burial until Walker’s remains were discovered in July by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Walker passed away in 1944, and prior sources state that his remains were identified and identified on July 21. Walker’s tank was struck by an 88mm anti-tank round as his battalion was fighting the Germans close to Hücheln, Germany. Walker is thought to have died at the scene.

Following the war, the American Graves Registration Command looked into cases of American soldiers who went missing in Europe. There were no reports of dead American service members in the Hücheln area in September 1948, despite multiple investigations being carried out there.

Officials speculated that the bones may have belonged to Walker when one set of unidentifiable remains was later found in one of the burned-out tanks near Hücheln. The remains were recognized as his after anthropological examination and mitochondrial DNA testing.

Collingwood was aware as a child that her father had perished in World War II. Except for her mother’s marriage to one of Walker’s closest friends, the family did not discuss it much.

“I think that (my mother) was very traumatized by what happened, and she never talked about it. I just grew up knowing that it was a subject that we didn’t talk about,” Collingwood said. “… I didn’t learn a lot about him. And then my mother ended up marrying one of his best friends when I was 6. So, I did learn quite a bit from him, just that he was an extremely likable, wonderful person. Kind, gentle, and that it’s too bad that I didn’t get to know him.”

Collingwood claimed to have received a call from the U.S. Army a few years back. They informed Collingwood at the time that they were creating a family tree for Walker and would be in contact with his relations should his remains ever be found. Collingwood claimed that both she and her daughter were requested to provide a DNA sample.

Collingwood received a call in July that would forever alter her life. After 79 years, Walker’s remains were identified.

“I thought I was dreaming. I thought, ‘There’s no way after 79 years this could happen, right?’” Collingwood said. “It even crosses your mind that this could be some kind of fraud, like they’re going to say ‘But if you want to know more, you have to send money to this.’ But it turns out it was completely true.”

Collingwood stated that her kids and grandchildren, who had gone through this procedure with her, were overjoyed to get the news. Collingwood expressed her wish that she and Walker’s mothers had known this knowledge before to their respective deaths.

When Collingwood learned that the remains had been identified, she experienced a mix of emotions.

“Shock, disbelief, happiness, I mean extreme happiness,” she said. “Just bewildered because who would ever dream that after 79 years that this was gonna happen, you know?”

Collingwood expressed her hope that others, especially those who are now in the position of having family members who have not been identified following a war or conflict, can find hope in her experience.

“I think that there’s a lot of people out there like me, who don’t know about their relative, whoever it might be and they have probably lost hope, if they haven’t been identified,” Collingwood said. “When they see or hear this story, they may have renewed hope that, well this guy was identified, maybe my loved one can someday be identified.”

The family of Collingwood is currently getting ready for Walker’s funeral. Collingwood expressed her gratitude to everyone who came to honor this American hero.

“It feels very wonderful, very gratifying, that this veteran is so appreciated,” she said.

Walker’s funeral is set for January 26, 2024, at San Diego’s Fort Rosecrans.