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Choir sings on plane to honor fallen WWII soldier being brought home

A youth choir helped honor a fallen World War II soldier being transported by plane with a rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
/ Source: TODAY

An American soldier who gave his life on a World War II battlefield has come home to a hero's welcome more than 70 years later.

At the end of a Delta Air Lines flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Atlanta on July 18, the pilot informed the passengers that a U.S. Army private would be escorting the remains of a World War II soldier off the plane before everyone could disembark.

As the soldier's remains were transported, members of the Iowa Ambassadors of Music choir spontaneously sang a beautiful rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in his honor.

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The moving performance of the choir singing, "Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!" was captured on video by fellow passenger Diane Cupp, 62, from Johnson City, Tennessee, who posted it on Facebook.

"It was so emotional,'' Cupp told TODAY. "I was just so proud of the young people who started singing and the respect that they showed. My heart just melted."

The soldier's remains had been found on a battlefield in either Germany or France and identified through DNA testing, according to Cupp.

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Cupp, a retired director of a juvenile court, had been on a 16-day tour of World War II sites in Germany and France with her husband, Robert, a retired judge.

"Right now, we're a nation that's so divided that it's just one of those moments where everybody comes together,'' Cupp said. "There were tears in people's eyes and tears in mine."

The Iowa Ambassadors of Music, a choir and band of 350 students, were on their way home after a 16-day concert tour across England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein, according to the Newton Daily News.

Cupp and her husband were supposed to be on a different flight but had a change of plans because he had to undergo an emergency medical procedure while in Germany.

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"I was on that flight for a reason,'' Cupp said. "All the emotions from our trip of visiting concentration camps and a cemetery for American soldiers, I was just overwhelmed when they made the announcement about the soldier and (the choir) started singing."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.