Onaway Soldier Killed In WWII Receives Proper Burial 75 Years After His Death

A family speechless, after the body of their relative was identified more than 70 years after he was killed fighting in World War II.

Onaway native Peter Mason Counter died at the age of 24 while fighting Japanese forces in 1942.

He was hastily buried overseas and deemed missing in action.

But 75 years later, using DNA and dental records his body was finally identified.

“Unbelievable, I never thought anything like this would happen,” Peter’s Niece Lavina Kollias, said.

In August of this year, Lavina got a call she didn’t think she’d ever get.

“Never thought they’d find him,” Lavina, said.

The Army, did.

They finally found her uncle.

“I just didn’t know how to react I guess,” Lavina, added.

Peter Counter died 75 years ago, defending his country on the battlegrounds of Papua New Guinea.

“I didn’t know nothing about him, other than that he was a MIA or KIA and that he was my uncle, that’s basically all I knew,” Lavina, explained.

The family didn’t talk much about him, perhaps it was too touchy of a subject.

“They mentioned his name every now and then but they never really talked about him. Maybe because it could have been hurtful, they just didn’t want to talk about it.” Lavina, added.

Relatives who knew Peter have since passed, but Lavina promised to never give up trying to find the uncle she’s never met.

“I made a promise to my mom that I would see it through and finish it for her,” Lavina, explained.

Peter will be laid to rest next to his parents and siblings at the family plot in Onaway.

The public is invited to attend the Veterans Day service Saturday at 11 a.m. at Chagnon Funeral Home in Onaway.

“Im very honored to be involved in something like this. My community is honored that he is going to be laid to rest here. I would characterize it as bittersweet, just a joyous thing to bring somebody home. Sad in a way that his parents, siblings, didn’t get the closure that his nieces and nephews will have,” Funeral Director Melissa Chagnon Sayers, said.

A bittersweet ending for a soldier no longer forgotten.

 

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