Bedard relatives welcome home World War II airman
Relatives of the late Brainerd Mayor George Bedard were “thrilled” to learn the remains of his brother, Harry, a World War II serviceman, returned to Minnesota Wednesday.
Janet Bedard, a Central Lakes College instructor whose husband Robert “George” Bedard was Harry Bedard’s nephew, said the family believed that Harry would have been humbled by all the attention his belated return home has created.
“It has really drawn the extended family much closer together,” she said.
On Saturday, a funeral Mass for 2nd Lt. Harry Bedard, an Army Air Corps member, will be conducted in Dayton, where he grew up.
In addition to Robert “George” and Janet Bedard of the Nisswa area, other Brainerd area relatives of the serviceman are Caren Bedard and sons, Ben and Sam, of Brainerd; and Ruth Bedard of Brainerd. Caren Bedard’s late husband, Jim was a nephew of Harry Bedard. Ruth Bedard was married to the late Mayor George Bedard, who was Harry’s brother.
Harry Bedard, a navigator and bombardier, died in 1945 at the age of 22 when his B-25 plane crashed in the Philippines. The unidentified remains of all the crew members were buried first in the Phillippines and later at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. It wasn’t until a few years ago, Janet Bedard said, that DNA testing allowed authorities to separate and conclusively identify the remains of the crash victims. That identification process was followed by Wednesday’s flight which brought Bedard home to Minnesota.
Jack Von Feldt of Rosemount, the oldest of Harry Bedard’s nieces and nephews , remembers when the serviceman visited his home in August of 1944. Von Feldt was 8 at the time. He remembered Harry Bedard playing with the kids and rough-housing with them.
Von Feldt said many relatives will be at Saturday’s funeral and it’s a fitting tribute to a man who fought and died in World War II .
George Bedard was mayor of Brainerd from 1969 to 1973 and was a well known Realtor.
MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.