, 2022-05-21 16:50:58,
The sounds of Taps cut mournfully through the solitude of sunny Cedar Hill Cemetery early Saturday afternoon as U.S. Army Private Hillary Soileau who died in combat 79 years ago returned to St. Landry Parish with full military graveside honors.
Military veterans stood at attention, removed their caps and saluted as a hearse pulled by a motorcycle roared up to the Washington, La. burial plot where Soileau’s sister and other relatives waited as an honor guard directed the short service about 15 miles from where Soileau left for the military in 1942.
It was actually the third burial since 1943 for Soileau, who was born in Bunkie and grew up in the rural Whiteville community.
Soileau according to military records was killed in World War II combat Jan. 14, 1943 during an engagement with Japanese troops on Guadalcanal as part of 25th Infantry Division support for the Marines who were initially outnumbered by a well-entrenched enemy.
His unidentified remains were buried Feb.3, 1943 on Guadalcanal, disinterred there five years later and reburied as an unknown killed in action at the National Memorial Cemetery of The Pacific in Hawaii before re-exhumation for further forensic analysis in 2019.
Although exactly how Soileau died remains undetermined, family members were notified Dec. 8, 2020 that Soileau’s remains had been positively identified and accounted for following extensive anthropological and DNA testing by military officials at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam Hawaii.
Before the Saturday funeral procession left Sibille Funeral Home in Opelousas for Washington, Gregory Badeaux, nephew of Hillary Soileau, said he has gained respect for the effort U.S. military officials take to make sure all military personnel who die unidentified are eventually accounted for and brought…
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