76 years later, Ashland WWII soldier finally returns home

MEDFORD, Ore.– For 76 years, a Rogue Valley family has waited to learn what happened to one of four children lost during World War II.

U.S. Army Pfc. Dale W. Ross’ life remained a mystery after being pronounced missing in action in the Solomon Islands. But on Saturday, that title was finally removed as Private Ross was brought home and laid to rest at the Memory Gardens Memorial Park.

Over 7,000 stories lay in this garden but only one had a journey like this.

“He was a really ambitious guy, good runner,” said Dale W. Ross, the nephew and namesake of Private Ross. “One of the stories – he was a runner in the Army taking a message. That’s when he got killed.”

One of four brothers from Ashland Private Ross went missing in 1943 during the Battle of Mt. Austen in Guadalcanal.

76 years later, his family finally received the words they had been waiting for.

“It was very hard to believe to start with,” said Ross. “It took a while for me to accept that it wasn’t a hoax.”

After so long, Ross’ remains and dog tags were found in 2017 by an eight-year-old named Willie on Guadalcanal. Willie and a guardian attended Saturday’s service.

Once one of nearly 73,000 currently missing, Ross finally came home to rest in the family plot. He was invited to be laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. but his family turned down the offer.

“We happen to have extra spaces here and he’s with his other brothers and his mother,” said Ross.

A remarkable story for one family but a reminder that others may not get that chance.

“We’re lucky to have this MIA status removed but there are thousands, tens of thousands of families that won’t get this,” said Ross. “So we need to honor them too.”

In a garden with 7,000 stories, this one stands out as a sign of hope for those still waiting to come home.

Private Ross received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, posthumously. His name is memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.

His name will now be marked with a rosette to indicate he has been accounted for.

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