After 75 years, a World War II Army private has finally returned home to rest in Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman.

A funeral service and burial were held Saturday for Army Pvt. William A. Boegli, who was was raised in Sedan, Montana, about 12 miles west of Wilsall. Boegli was killed while leading a group of litter bearers to evacuate wounded soldiers in the 1944 invasion of Anguar Island.

While he was initially buried on Anguar Island, his remains have resided in a cemetery at Fort McKinley in the Philippines. That is, until the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency disinterred Boegli’s remains and sent them to Hawaii in an attempt to identify them. Don McHenry, his nephew, and McHenry’s brother and cousin all took DNA tests to help officials identify Boegli.

When McHenry heard that Boegli had been identified, he said he felt emotional and surprised.

“To find somebody that you didn’t know anything about for 70 years, it was really interesting to find,” he said.

During the funeral service Saturday, Boegli was awarded a Purple Heart, Silver Star, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal and WWII Victory Medal. McHenry received them on Boegli’s behalf.

After the presentation of the metals, two songs that family members found the titles of written down in Boegli’s notebook were played, “Oh Johnny Oh,” by the Andrews Sisters, and “God Bless America” by Kate Smith.

The son of a cheese maker, Boegli was one of four siblings who had “many adventures” around Sedan and rode horses to the Sedan school, according to his obituary.

After enlisting in the army in 1941, Boegli married Beulah Beebe of Sedan in 1942. Not much was known about Beogli, as his family spoke little about him after his death and his military records were destroyed in St. Louis, his obituary said.

McHenry said there were a few things he picked up over the years, though. He heard Boegli was light-hearted, liked practical jokes, had a great sense of humor and was “a very gentle person.”

There’s a photo of Boegli holding McHenry as a baby somewhere, though McHenry said he couldn’t find it.

“So he knew me, but I never knew him,” he said. “But we can’t go back in time.”

In closing remarks at the funeral, Chaplain Daniel Thompson spoke of the sacrifice Boegli made.

“Thank God for those that are willing, when needed, to make the sacrifice,” he said. “William was part of a long line of servicemen to put on the uniform and give up his life.”

At the cemetery, Boegli was given the proper burial rites for someone who dies in combat. Veterans from the American Legion in Bozeman fired three shots, or “volleys,” from their guns. A prayer was said, “Taps” was played on a trumpet and a flag over Boegli’s casket was presented to his family.

Thompson repeated lyrics to “Taps”: “Day is done, all is well, God is near.”

Abby Lynes can be reached at alynes@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

Abby Lynes covers business and the economy for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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