World War II Veteran, Missing For Years, No Longer Forgotten

Steve Miller
October 18, 2018 - 6:00 am

Two views of Navy medic Raymond Bell (pictures courtesy Cook County Sheriff's Department)

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(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A 90-year-old World War Two veteran will be buried with honors at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery this week, but he almost ended up in a pauper's grave -- his fate forever unknown to daughters who spent decades searching for him.

Two sisters born in Chicago don't have any memory of their father. Raymond W. Bell joined the Navy when he was 17, in early 1945. He was a medic and re-enlisted in 1951.

In 1966, he disappeared.

"We just felt through the years that because he was never found, he probably passed away. But something was nagging at me this last year,” Peggy Sloan said.

She and her sister, Catherine Basten, both in their late 60s, believe their father suffered from PTSD. They pushed for another search for their father.   

He'd been in the Chicago area for decades.  The Cook County Sheriff's office found him, just days after he died.

"He was literally days away from being put in a pauper's grave. I mean, we would've lost him again,” Sloan said.

Said Basten: "I was so tired of saying I have a father who has mental illness and he is missing.  I needed to give that man dignity and respect."