KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Norman Goodson was around 9 years old when his uncle was declared missing in action in World War II and now at age 87, he’s finally getting some answers.

The remains of US Army Corporal Joe Vinyard have been identified and are set to return home to Maryville after 75 years. The 23-year-old was working as a crew member on a tank in 1944. His unit engaged in battle with German forces in a small area east of the Belgium and Netherlands border when his tank was hit.

The war department issued a presumptive finding of death in April 1946, after Vinyard was reported missing in action. In 1947, remains were found in two tanks in the area of the battle, but they could not be identified.

Vinyard was declared non-recoverable in 1950, but in July 2021 his remains were found and sent for analysis. Norman Goodson, Vinyard’s nephew and the only remaining family member who is old enough to remember him, is thankful to finally have some answers.

“We were very thankful and excited that we could finally bring this to a conclusion,” Goodson said.

The 87-year-old wishes some of his other family was alive to learn about the DNA match.

“They didn’t declare him dead for I believe 14 years, then they declared him dead, naturally they were all devastated, they had hope, and it’s too bad that they couldn’t have been around to get this match,” Goodson said.

Vinyard’s remains are now set to be returned to Maryville and buried alongside family members in Grandview Cemetery.

“His mother and dad are buried there, so he will be over on the military side with full military honors,” Goodson said.

Goodson said the DNA match answers a lifelong question for him and his family.

“We always wondered what happened, we finally started getting little bits and pieces of the battle, when we finally got closure, like I said there’s many nephews and nieces, and so they were all very excited,” Goodson said.

The next step for his family is a final send-off for his uncle.

“We’re looking forward to this military funeral, this would really bring closure to it,” he said.

The funeral is being held on June 17 at Grandview Cemetery in Maryville.