Thursday, May 16, 2013

As Memorial Day approaches. . .  and we see and hear the story of soldier who founded the "Carry the Load" walk, it is interesting to see the emphasis that we placed -- as a county -- on returning the dead to their rightful place. 

The following except is from my grandmother's column, May 25, 1947, Collinsville News, as she talks about the effort to locate all missing warriors from World War II. 

Did you know about this effort?

"More than 200,000 of our honored dead of WWII are being returned for final burial.  In the fall of 1947, a somber gray funeral ship will steam in the San Francisco Bay.  The first of America’s valiant dead will be home at last, two years after the end of hostilities.  At the same time, the first contingent from the battlefields of Europe will arrive in New York.

Behind the vast program of returning the war dead to their native soil is an inspiring story of one of the greatest organized searches in all history.  The Graves Registration Service of the Quartermaster Corps has quietly conducted a gigantic, worldwide search for the body of every fallen American, no matter how slight the clue or inaccessible to the grave.

In Europe alone, 10,000 trained personnel combed over a million and a half square miles seeking to recover an estimated 25,000 missing Americans.  Other thousands of patient searchers struggled on foot through the steaming jungles of Burma and New Guinea, explored of remote valleys of the Himalayas, and scoured the steppingstone the islands of the Pacific.  They used helicopters, ox carts, motor cars, dog sleds, spotting planes and amphibious equipment.  In some remote regions, it was necessary to call up supporting troops and planes to fight off the savage bandits.

From the first landings in the north of Africa to the final smashing of the Reichwehr, the fallen were removed to the rear,  as the battle swept forward, and appropriate burials in temporary cemeteries were held.

In all previous wars, the fallen were buried on or close to the battlefield or lost forever in the depths of the sea.  And the last war, thousands plummeted to death over every sort of lonely spot, as a result of the aerial operations from the Azores to Murmansk, from the misty Aleutians to the dreaded “Hump.”  Thousands of others made the supreme sacrifice on the myriad atolls of the South Seas, and hundreds of intelligence officers vanished in the Balkans, and near and Far East without a whisper ever coming back of their fate or their final resting places.  "

There is more. . . . I will continue next week. . . . stay tuned!


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