Assumption homecoming for fallen soldier

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ASSUMPTION, Ill. (WAND) - Captain Joseph Smith is finally welcomed home after 46 years.

Capt. Smith entered the Air Force in November of 1968. He was sent to Vietnam on August 6, 1970. On April 4, 1971, all of Assumption hurt after hearing that his plane had been shot down in Cambodia and had likely died.

However, many in the town never wanted to believe Smith was dead without physical evidence.

Pat Weger went to school with Smith. She said, "It was terrible and it was a little two-fold because you knew it was true, you knew he was probably gone, but without the actual proof, it doesn't register. You don't let yourself admit that he is truly gone." 

In 1971, a headstone was placed in St. Mary's Cemetery. Now that headstone is next to his mother and father's.

In May of 2017, the people that knew him finally had closure. His remains had been found and confirmed through DNA testing.

Now, the town is honoring him. On Friday 2,000 flags were placed from Moweaqua to Assumption on the route that a massive motorcade traveled through on Saturday. With thousands lining the streets and in the vehicles, Captain Smith received the homecoming that he never got. The motorcade consisted of police vehicles, sheriffs vehicles, fire departments, and even a huge section of motorcycles. Some of the counties represented were Shelby, Macon, and Pana. All wanted to pay respects to a fallen hero.

The procession started at Moweaqua Baptist Church, went to Seitz Funeral Home, and ended at St. Mary's.

A funeral will be held at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Assumption on Monday at 10:00 a.m.

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