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Remains of WWII soldier to return home Wednesday

By JOHN REYNOLDS | The State Journal-Register (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 22, 2017

The remains of a former Springfield, Ill., man who was listed as missing in action after a battle in the Netherlands during World War II will be coming home Wednesday.

PJ Staab II of Staab Funeral Home said the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Michael Aiello will arrive in St. Louis a little after 3 p.m.

"The procession will continue through Sherman because he lived there as a little boy and went to grade school there. Then the procession will make its way into Springfield coming down Peoria Road to Ninth Street," Staab said.

The procession will continue south on Ninth Street, head west on Capitol Avenue and then turn south on Fifth Street, ending at Staab Funeral Home, 1109 S. Fifth St.

As of Saturday, a time on when the procession might arrive in Sherman and Springfield wasn't available.

Staab said the funeral home is working with police and fire departments in Sherman and Springfield, the Illinois State Police and the Sangamon County Sheriff's Office to coordinate the procession. The Patriot Guard also will be in the procession.

Jim Sodaro, a Springfield resident and a member of Illinois Patriot Guard, is an Army veteran himself. He said they conduct processions out of respect for their fallen brothers and sisters.

"They deserve respect whether they were drafted or enlisted on their own free will. We are in a unique fraternity. It's to show respect to them and their families for their unwavering service to this nation of ours."

Aiello was born in 1909 in St. Louis. Three years later, his family moved to Sherman where he attended grade school. After finishing the eighth grade, Aiello became a coal miner at the age of 13.

Aiello's family moved to Springfield in 1918. Aiello later owned and operated a restaurant in downtown Springfield, but primarily worked as a coal miner until he entered the Army in 1942.

Within two years, Aiello advanced to the rank of staff sergeant and was assigned to a glider infantry regiment. He was involved in the D-Day Invasion and later in 1944 his unit was assigned to Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands.

Operation Market Garden called for glider and airborne troops to seize bridges in the Netherlands and hold them until British armor units arrived. The operation, portrayed in the 1977 movie "A Bridge Too Far," failed.

Military records indicated Aiello went missing Sept. 30 1944, during intense fighting near the bridge at Nijmegen. While no remains were officially identified as Aiello, the military issued a presumptive finding of death about a year later.

Aiello was 35 when he went missing. He was not married and didn't have any children.

About eight years ago, the military disinterred a set of remains that were later identified as Aiello. Family members in the Springfield area provided DNA samples to confirm the identity.

Aiello will be buried at Camp Butler Cemetery at 10 a.m. Saturday. The ceremony at the cemetery is open to the public.

john.reynolds@sj-r.com

(c) 2017 The State Journal-Register. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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