The remains of WWII veterans given fitting tribute and burial after abandonment

Through the Missing in America Project, the remains of two World War II veterans were finally transferred to a more honorable home after being left in an abandoned cemetery.
Through the Missing in America Project, the remains of two World War II veterans were finally transferred to a more honorable home after being left in an abandoned cemetery.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The remains of two veterans of the World War II were transferred to a fitting home after being abandoned in a cemetery as unidentified soldiers. After the war, the cremated remains of the two WWII veterans remained in an archeology building at the University of Louisville waiting for proper identification and honorable burial. The researchers have no knowledge of who the veterans were. Their identities remain unknown after being left unclaimed by their families.

“We’ve been riding on the shoulders of these veterans for years, and we owe them,” Dale LeMond of the Missing in America Project said.  The remains of the soldiers who served during the World War II were buried in an abandoned Eastern Cemetery. The cemetery was in poor condition with holes and mud. The containers of the remains, often made of ornate boxes, were usually vandalized and the remains were left in reckless abandon – a condition not fitting for the considered heroes from the greatest generation.

The World War II veterans who were buried in the cemetery had no traceable families. The were only identified through their names.

The Wave News reports that efforts were made to ensure that the service of those who served the country will not be forgotten through the Missing in America Project.

“The Missing in America Project (MIAP) is involved in identifying the veterans that their remains are here, some were unclaimed by family members others are just abandoned by the cemetery,” LeMond said.  The MIAP, as published in their official website, aims to “locate, identif and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans”. The MIAP encompasses all sectors including the “private, state and federal organizations”. The project started in 2006 and formally launched in January 2007 with the hope of giving dignity and honor to the veterans as they so richly deserve.

The MIAP has reportedly found over 6,000 cremated remains. The joint project has also identified 1,918 of the remains as veterans across the country. The project has also interred 1,784 of the veterans. Through research, the project traces the history, including their service during the World War II, of the men who are buried in cemeteries all across America. Most of the remains they have found were unclaimed by families. Giving the two World War II veterans the appropriate burial and tribute is among the mission of the MIAP. Until then, the remains sit at the archeology building of the university with their life stories wrapped in mystery.

“One of them was in the army air corporal and he has an Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, which I think basically means that he was in an aircraft during battle,” said LeMond.  He was referring to Russell Phillips. The other veteran was Charles Smith. Mysteries still remain as to their life before and during the war and as to their death.

The remains were turned over to the Owen Funeral Home on Dixie Highway. A fitting ceremony will be scheduled as tribute to the bravery and service of the two men. After, their remains will be buried at the Radcliff Veterans Cemetery.


Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE