A Kirkland soldier killed in World War II was finally laid to rest 72 years after his plane went down over Germany. The ceremony at Tahoma National Cemetery for William James Gray, Jr. honored a fallen hero and reunited best friends.
Gray joined the military with his best friend, and the two had a pact to look out for each other.
“They went into the war together and intended to fly together, but Uncle Bill had already gone to the UW, so he had more education, so he went Fighter,” Gregg Louvier explained.
James Louvier was assigned to work on bombers, but the two friends faced battle with a special promise.
"They said if anything happens to either one of us, the other will take care of the family,” Louvier said. “Dad came back and married his little sister and took care of the family for years.”
A few months ago, archaeologists recovered Gray's remains and said he would be coming home. Louvier found a scrapbook buried among his parent's belongings in his basement and suddenly the uncle he never knew came alive.
“It's every letter from his first day of flight training,” Louvier explained.
The letters are detailed and include write-ups about special missions.
“It told you about a man that saved a lot of other people's lives because of what he did,” he said.
His family says they are surprised by the connection they feel and the loss.
“If dad would have been alive for this, it would have been amazing,” he explained, choking back emotion.
Gray received the long overdue military honors, but there were two ceremonies on Friday.
Louvier died seven years ago, and his family had not buried his ashes, so the family was able to have a service for him. The two will be interred side-by-side.
“Now they'll be buried next to each other forever.”
It is a final chapter in his homecoming, but not the end of his story. Family members say that will live on in their hearts.
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