76 Years Later WWII Proctor Veteran Receives Military Honors After Being Lost at Sea

Proctor-native and merchant marine Sterling LeRoy Bird, better known as Sting, went missing and presumed lost at sea in WWII.

DULUTH, Minn. – A special military honors ceremony was held at Oneota Cemetery for a Proctor veteran who was lost at sea during WWII.

Proctor-native and merchant marine Sterling LeRoy Bird, better known as Sting, went missing and presumed lost at sea in WWII.

It happened after a Japanese submarine torpedoed the Liberty Ship he was on.

Now, 76 years later, Sting got the military honors he earned all those years ago.

“Sting certainly deserved the presentation of the flag,” said Sting’s cousin Kris Lyons.

Sting’s family always hoped he’d come home to them despite being missing at sea, which is why he never got his military honors.

After Sting’s ship was torpedoed, Japanese soldiers tortured and killed many on the ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

“We forget that the sacrifices that people that they all made for us to be free as Americans,” says Lyons.

Sting’s body may be lost to the deep, but there is a part of him back at his gravesite thanks to a lock of baby hair from his first haircut int he 1920s.

“His footstone had been put in so we dug a little hole and stuck the hair in so Sting has a piece of his DNA up here even though he’s lost in the Indian Ocean,” says Lyons.

A 48-star flag authentic flag from WWII was presented to Sting’s family on Saturday by the Duluth Honor Guard.

The flag was presented by the son of a man who knew Stil well at Proctor High School adding a personal touch to the day.

Merchant marines who served in WWII are now given veteran status after their sacrifices were honored by the US Government.

“Merchant marines weren’t’ always well respected and honored which is really a tragedy again. A lot of these guys joined because they couldn’t get in because of physical requirements as their way to give back and serve,” says John Marshall, the captain of the Duluth Honor Guard.

For Sting’s family, the ceremony was a chance to say goodbye to the greatest generation and spend time remembering their sacrifice.

“It just gives you a closeness of family and that sense of missing them but weren’t we lucky to have them,” says Lyons.

The Duluth Honor Guard says that all veterans regardless if they saw combat deserve to have full military honors when their time comes.

 

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