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Marine killed in WWII returned home to Nashville 78 years later

WKRN Nashville logo WKRN Nashville 8/4/2022 Lucas Wright

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - The remains of a Tennessee Marine who was killed in World War II have been returned to his hometown.

Marine Corps Reserve Cpl. William R. Ragsdale of Nashville was a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, which was part of the invasion force of the island of Saipan.

Ragsdale was originally believed to have been wounded in action in June 1944, but he later had his status updated to “missing in action” before eventually being listed as “killed in action” in May 1945.

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After the war, officials searched for remains on Saipan but none could be identified as Ragsdale.

In January 2020, remains designated as Unknown X-6 27th Infantry Division Cemetery were disinterred and sent to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency lab at Pearl Habor. Using dental, anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis, along with circumstantial and material evidence, the remains were identified as Ragsdale, and he was determined accounted for in April.

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Ragsdale was born in Columbia, Tennessee in 1920 and spent most of his youth living with his family on 8th Avenue South in Nashville. He was a 1939 graduate of Central High School.

After a short stint at Vanderbilt University and a few years working with L & N Railroad as a locomotive mechanic, Ragsdale married Mina Eloise Friedli in 1942.

Following the death of his father just one week after getting married, Ragsdale decided to register for service in the Marine Corps Reserve.

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Ragsdale rose to the rank of Corporal just a few short months before he was first reported as missing in action in 1944.

Ragsdale’s remains arrived at the Nashville International Airport on Thursday. Surviving family members were there to welcome him back home.

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He will be laid to rest in Nashville on Saturday.

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