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The Repatriation of Fallen US Servicemen (From AGRS to JMAC)
Dr. Naomi Jeffery Petersen, Central Washington University LtC Jim Murrie, USAF (RET) 15 November 2012
AFROTC Detachment 895 UNITED STATES AIR FORCE RESERVE OFFICER TRAINING CORPS
When did WWII end?
NOT when the demobilizing troops returned… …but years later … …when 170,000+ casualties were returned.
THE WWII SERGEANT COMES HOME
PUBLIC LAW 383 May 16, 1946
Unique to America.
For repatriation of deaths occurring 03 Sep 39—30 Jun 46
No other ally repatriated servicemen’s remains.
56% of known WWII casualties repatriated.
279, 867 final dispositions. 78,976 were never found. 171, 539 returned to US.
Passengers, not a cargo.
Army paid fare for each returnee and escorts. $200,000,000 (~ 1$Billion 2011) Average cost: $564.50 for each remains.
ARMY QUARTERMASTER GENERAL Six-year project
Tell me about my boy!
Brochure sent to all next of kin. Four options for final resting place. 1. Return to US for burial in private cemetery 2. Return to US for burial in national cemetery. 3. Burial overseas in private cemetery. 4. Burial overseas in national cemetery. Choice had to be final by December 31, 1951.
Individual Deceased Personnel File
Lists all details of disinterment, transportation, and burial details. Contains all correspondence with next of kin, including telegrams , Form 1193 (Receipt for Remains) Form 1194 (Disinterment Directive)
44% REMAIN IN OVERSEAS CEMETERIES
93,242 remained buried overseas at family request 8,000 recovered but unidentified; reburied in national cemeteries overseas.
George Patton in Luxembourg.
Ernie Pyle in Hawaii.
Planning began June, 1943.
QMG directed to “study and draw up a body of recommendations in reference to the problems of disposal of the war dead.”
Became Policy Study #34, August 1943.
Final plan approved by War Dept. 08 Sep 45
Implement the plan “or parts thereof as conditions and circumstances warrant.”
ARMY GRAVES REGISTRATION SERVICE AGRS
1. 2. 3.
Location Identification & Documentation Burial overseas
New Responsibilities (Public Law 383)
1. 2. 3.
Notification to families Reburial according to family’s wishes Dignified return
Shortage of caskets.
Steel Crisis caused one year delay.
AGRS mobilization conflicted with overall demobilization.
Shortage of qualified personnel. Lack of maintenance, transportation, supply support during demobilization.
Overlapping zones of responsibility.
454 temporary cemeteries in 86 Countries AGRS zones vs. Theater Command. Multiple organizational structures involved.
Local conditions, e.g. China Civil War
Required early evacuation from Shanghai in March, 1947 before full readiness. Remains were not repatriated but simply relocated to Hawaii until adequately prepared for return.
Waiting for next-of-kin decisions.
Not sure how many were returning to US.
Hiring and paying local laborers.
Some countries very cooperative.
Belgium even staged parades of honor. Iberian villages held religious ceremonies.
Some less cooperative.
Cold War: Russia, Balkans Cultural fears of reprisal: Japan Dangerous natives: New Guinea
Some restrictions and delays.
Denmark demanded proof of next-of-kin wishes. Australia demanded proof of US identities. Revolution: French Indo-China; Dutch East Indies
Worldwide area. Move from gravesite to Concentration Ports.
Local infrastructure lacking or damaged.
Condition of equipment.
Lack of ships, vehicles, and aircraft. Lack of support (mechanics, parts).
SPECIALIZED AGRS TEAMS
13, 311 US personnel involved overseas.
Propaganda. Investigation. Search. Exhumation/Disinterment. Identification teams Central Identification Labs.
Search records. Meet with local officials. Posting and broadcasting notification of repatriation effort..
OIC. Interpreter. Driver.
3-man teams. Started with known burials. Followed up leads. Rumors. Other records, e.g. fire incidents. Lolo tribe in China. Consulting a French mayor.
Asking residents about “dog” tags in Burma.
Challenging physical terrain. Danger to teams (local violence). UXO Danger (unexploded ordinance).
Some remains were declared unrecoverable.
Investigator or Med Tech Clerk/Driver. Local Laborers.
Exhumation of isolated burials. Disinterrment from cemeteries.
Temporary holding point between original gravesites and final route pending identification.
Remains identified? routed according to family’s wishes.
Unresolved cases routed to Central Identification Laboratories.
Permanent overseas cemetery
Repatriation ports for delivery to US.
Still unidentified interred overseas.
CENTRAL IDENTIFICATION LABS
Cases unresolved by Search Teams.
10,011 . (3.5%) still unidentified 31 Dec 51
Strasbourg, France. Manila, PI Honolulu, T.H.
Also Mobile units
CENTRAL LAB SPECIALISTS
Physical Anthropologist. Professional mortician. Dental technician. Elaborate lab equipment and operators. Chemist X-ray tech
PERMANENT OVERSEAS CEMETERIES
American Battle Monuments Commission.
Administer overseas monuments and cemeteries.
15 WWII cemeteries
U.S. PORTS AND DISTRIBUTION CENTERS
Oakland, CA Brooklyn, NY
Schenectedy, NY Philadelphia, PA Charlotte, NC Atlanta, GA Memphis, TN Columbus, OH Chicago, IL San Antonio, TX Fort Worth, TX Kansas City, MO Ogden, UT Auburn, WA Mira Loma, CA
5,434 Zone of the Interior personnel
1. Ships arrived at Port of Embarkation (POE)
Pacific: San Francisco (Oakland); Atlantic: New York (Brooklyn) Quickly inspected and sorted for destination. Ship arrivals determined Train Schedules.
2. Trains travel to 15 Refurbished Distribution Centers.
Dignified storage and visitation facilities in America. Above ground temporary storage overseas.
3. From Distribution Centers for final delivery home
Via train and/or hearse and/or service car.
*Typical of 1940s Intermodal / L.C.L. (Less than Car Load)
US ARMY TRANSPORT VESSELS (USAT)
9 ships (5 Atlantic; 4 Pacific), and 2 more later.
Carried up to 8,000 remains.
Install racks for casket containers in holds. Re-ballast ships for reduced weight. Freshly painted for respect.
ARMY EQUIPMENT CONVERSIONS
Converted first to hospital ward cars during war.
Litter doors added.
Then converted to mortuary cars.
Racks and overhead chain hoist installed. Windows plated for privacy and security.
ARMY CAR CONVERSIONS
1941-1943 purchased approximately 120 SURPLUS HEAVYWEIGHTS Primarily parlor, lounge, observation cars. At least 22 different plans/subplans. 1942-1943 converted to hospital cars for the wounded by both Pullman and ACF. Litter doors added; Interior redesigned. Air conditioning not required by Army; removed. 1947 converted 118 to mortuary cars for the fallen by ACF, Wilmington, DE. Windows covered. Special door locks. I-Beams, hoists and racks added inside.
MORTUARY CARS: SOBER AND DISTINCTIVE
FROM MILITARY TO CIVILIAN TRAINS
Shipped on common carrier passenger trains. -- From Distribution Center (DC) to final destination. -- Handled in baggage cars per normal RR/REA procedures. -- Dignified return all the way to final destination. -- Flag draped casket. Military escorts assigned at each distribution center. --Coordinate with conductor to assure careful transfer. “Don’t lose the casket” --Escort assigned berth in sleeper or coach seat. --No drinking during assignment. -- All combat veterans
ESCORTING THE FALLEN HOME
Military escorts accompanied caskets.
Involved, following strict protocol. Carefully selected military personnel with proper tact and bearing. Must have served in a combat unit.
Trained in procedures and for decorum.
Watched motion picture “Your Proudest Duty”. Assigned by rank, race, religion, and service.
Direct and personal contact with grieving relatives
Responsible for presenting flag to family.
This was considered the most valued aspect of the program.
Military had feared resentment. Thousands of letters of appreciation.
Many escorts were offered gifts.
Protocol required refusal. Policy changed in response to wishes of Native American families,
RETURNING VIA THE PACIFIC
1. Ships arrive at map PORT OF ENTRY (POE)
2. Sorted for
3. Escorted via train to DC
4. Delivered home via ambulance and/or train
2LT GEORGE A. WHITEMAN ITINERARY
Lv Arr Honolulu via USAT Honda Knot. Oakland (SFPOE) 30 Sep 47 10 October 1947.
Lv Arr Lv
Oakland (DC #13) 27 October 1947. Kansas City(DC #9) via mortuary car. Kansas City via MP#12 (Colorado Eagle) 7:01 AM 31 October 1947 Sedalia MO 8:35 AM same day .
Shot down by a Japanese plane at Pearl Harbor. First air corps casualty of World War II. Whiteman Air Force Base at Knob Noster near Sedalia.
PVT MATTHEW D. MUSOLINO ITINERARY
Lv Lv Arr MANILA PI. via USAT Gen. Nelson M. Walker 20 Oct 1949
OAKLAND ARMY TERMINAL (San Francisco POE) 31 Oct 1949. Brooklyn NY (DISTRIBUTION CENTER #1) 08 Nov 1949.
New York Hartford CT
via NYNH&H #68. 10:30 AM 1:07PM
18 Nov 1949 same day.
Information from Personnel File (IDPF)
FIRST SHIP HOME: USAT HONDA KNOT
October 10, 1947 Freighter from Honolulu to OAKLAND ARMY TERMINAL Carried 3512 coffins and 16 urns. Met by 5000 people.
Flyover of Air Force P-80s from Hamilton Field.
SAN FRANCISCO HONORS PACIFIC DEAD
Six lay in state in San Francisco City Hall. One from each service plus one for civilians.
11 major shipments of Pacific dead; 57,705.
- trains loaded directly outdoors at pierside sidings.
Oct 13, 1947 first MORTUARY CARS
- attached to regular passenger trains for Auburn WA, Memphis TN, San Antonio TX, Ogden UT, Columbus OH.
Oct 15, 1947 complete MORTUARY TRAINS depart
-15 cars to Kansas City (9) + New York (6) arriving NYC 19 Oct. -15 cars to Chicago and Philadelphia
DOCK 3 OAKLAND ARMY TERMINAL
First two caskets being lowered by
Four longshoremen wait behind them to take over operations.
Flag-draped shipping cases holding caskets are lowered from the USAT Honda Knot at Oakland Army Base.
HONOR GUARD escort.
Each fallen serviceman was considered an individual passenger.
Forklift prepares to lift casket from dolly onto MORTUARY CAR. Each casket’s information is double checked while HONOR GUARD is at Parade Rest.
USA 8919 is going to Charlotte NC (DISTRIBUTION CENTER 4).
Clean coveralls and gloves with dress shirts and ties. Freshly painted equipment.
Gentle handling. Name at head.
Switcher pulls loaded Mortuary Cars from port to rail classification yards prior to inland movement .
Switcher with train
Oakland Army Base
LAST FUNERAL TRAIN 15 Oct 1947
(15 car) pulling out of Oakland Railyard for Chicago and Philadelphia.
WP 486 4-8-4, Lima 1943 .
BELGIUM HONORS EUROPEAN DEAD
Antwerp, Belgium October 4, 1947
Ceremonies before USAT Joseph V. Connolly sailed.
Symbolic casket representing American war dead.
USAT JOSEPH V. CONNOLLY
Depart Antwerp October 4, 1947. Arrive New York harbor October 26.
Carrying the remains of 6,248 servicemen.
USAT JOSEPH V. CONNOLLY
Arrived New York Harbor October 26. Decked in laurel leaves.
Carrying 6,251 remains.
NEW YORK CEREMONIES, OCTOBER 26, 1947
USAT Joseph V. Connolly met by Aircraft flyover and Naval escort (USS Missouri, 2 destroyers, Coast Guard cutter). Docked at Pier 61, Manhattan. Pallbearers from each service carried casket of one unnamed Medal of Honor recipient from Battle of the Bulge. Procession of 6,000 troops accompanied body past crowd of 400,000 to Memorial Service in Central Park attended by 150,000. Casket returned to ship; ship moved to Brooklyn Army Base to begin transport by rail to hometowns.
Honor Guard on duty facing wreath over flagdraped caskets in hold. (Flags used when in public). Pier 3. 1948.
Flag-draped coffins laying in state prior to unloading, Pier 3. 1948.
FROM SHIP TO SHORE AT BROOKLYN ARMY TERMINAL.
Special tarps to protect coffins from weather
Then Transfer to Building B and sorted by final destination.
FROM SHIP TO SHORE
U.S.A.T. Joseph V. Connolly docked at Brooklyn Army Terminal.
Coffins carried first to pier sheds.
Flag-draped coffins. Nonstop military escort and guard. Constant checking for proper identification of deceased.
Cases containing the caskets of American Servicemen move through flag-draped Pier 3 shed enroute to special mortuary cars.
8 stories (101’) high Moveable bridges. Overhead crane. 980’ x 300’. 66’ wide platforms. 2 indoor tracks. 50 car capacity.
Standing above rail spur, soldiers watch as caskets are loaded onto waiting mortuary cars inside Building B, Brooklyn Army Terminal.
Nonstop military escort and guard. Constant checking for proper identification of deceased.
113,834 remains received at port. Unloaded into warehouse Loaded onto trains inside building. Trains routed either via barge to PRR in NJ or via NYNH&H RR (Long Island RR Bayridge branch) First train out – PRR to Chicago (465 remains)
BROOKLYN ARMY TERMINAL TRANSFER OPS
1. Freighter docks. 5. Cars loaded on barges
2. Building B sort caskets; load cars.
3. Cars under guard at East Yard.
4. Cars switched to Bush Terminal.
Cars loaded for final destinations. Cars transferred from Building B by Army switcher #7896
TRANSFER OPS: BUSH TERMINAL
Bush switcher #88 pulls cars from Army yard to Bush Terminal.
Placed under guard at Army East Railyard.
ANOTHER WATER TRANSFER
Cars loaded on barges (car floats) to Pennsylvania Railroad yards in Greenville, NJ.
Switchers USA #7896 and Bush #88 Westinghouse 80 ton diesel switchers
Cars loaded on barges (car floats)
A Mortuary Car History • Parlor car Azalea • Hospital Ward Car 17 Army # 8917 • Ward-Dressing car #89000
Tug maneuvers car floats to PRR yards, Greenville,NJ.
Honor Guard carries casket of one of the first Pacific war dead to be returned to the East Coast from mortuary car. Brooklyn 19 Oct 1947.
Ceremonial photo of Honor Guard carrying one of 296 caskets brought by six-car train from Oakland Army Terminal to Distribution Center #1 (Brooklyn) 19 Oct 47.
Service Car with Casket at Brooklyn Army Base. 1947. Officer explaining Honor Guard duties.
MP's at main gate salute as service car leaves Distribution Center No.1 Brooklyn Army Base, New York Port of Entry.
RETURNING VIA THE ATLANTIC
3. Escorted via train to DC
4. Delivered home via ambulance and/or train 2. Sorted for distribution centers (DC) 1. Ships arrive at NYPOE
PVT FRED E. SMITH’S ITINERARY (IDPF)
Lv Arr Antwerp BE New York POE via USAT Joseph V. Connolly 04 Oct 1947 26 Oct 1947
Lv Arr Lv Arr
New York via mortuary car Auburn WA (Distribution Center #14)
E. Auburn WA Spokane WA Spokane WA Odessa WA via NP #2 (North Coast Ltd) 10:45PM 8:25AM via GN #5 (Cascadian) 8:30AM 10:14AM
31 Oct 1949 08 Nov 1947
19 Nov 1947 20 Nov 1947 20 Nov 1947 20 Nov 1947
“…met by an honor guard of veterans.”
SGT THOMAS F. SEAL’S ITINERARY
Lv Arr Lv Arr Lv Arr
Cardiff, Wales via USAT Lawrence Victory 18 June 1948 Brooklyn (NYPOE) 28 June 1948 NY (DC #1) Atlanta (DC #5) Atlanta via Southern #15 (mixed train) Columbiana AL 01 July 1948. 02 July 1948. 22 July 1948. 1:55 PM same day
S/SGT BERNARD D. MEEKER’S ITINERARY
Lv Arr Lv Antwerp BE via USAT Joseph V. Connolly New York POE Bush Terminal RR USA MAIN via car float to NJ 04 Oct 1947 26 Oct 1947
Lv Arr Lv Arr
Greenville NJ via PRR Chicago (DISTRIBUTION CENTER #8). Chicago Britton SD via CMSt&P #5 10:30AM 02 Dec 1947. 10:50 AM 03 Dec 1947.
GOLD STAR MOTHERS
THE BERGSTROM BROTHERS, TREMENTON, UT
Only 4 Gold Star Family
4 Brothers, all died within 6 months. 3 Services 4 Theaters 5th brother released from USMC
FIRST KOREAN WAR DEAD
Departing Japan 1951
Current policy of "continuous return" of dead is a result of Chinese/North Koreans threatening to overrun the temporary UN cemeteries in 1950.
Recommendations of the WWII Graves Registration units implemented:
name tags on uniforms, standardized medical and dental charts for all services.
… AND NOW
JOINT MORTUARY AFFAIRS CENTER (JMAC)
FT. LEE, VA
MISSION: Provide world class Mortuary Affairs training for officer, enlisted, and civilian personnel from all branches of the armed services.
AIR FORCE SERVICES
The $2 billion worldwide Services program includes
physical fitness, peacetime and wartime troop feeding, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, Armed Forces entertainment, Air Force protocol, lodging, libraries, child development centers, youth centers a wide spectrum of recreation activities.
BRIG. GEN. EDEN J. MURRIE
Director of Air Force Services
USAF ROLES IN JMAC
CENTRAL IDENTIFICATION LABORATORY Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii
Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) conducts global search, recovery and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans (are more than 83,000 ) from past conflicts, including World War II, Korea and Vietnam. JPAC employs more than 400 joint military and civilian personnel. Its laboratory is the largest and most diverse forensic skeletal laboratory in the world.
USAF ROLES IN JMAC
joint mortuary Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations The Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs 116 Purple Heart Drive Dover AFB, DE 19902
USAF HONOR GUARD
DIGNITY * REVERENCE * RESPECT
Soldier Dead: How We Recover, Identify, Bury, and Honor Our Military Fallen. Michael Sledge. Columbia University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-231-13514-9.
A FEW SOURCES OF INFORMATION
WORLD WAR II FALLEN SERVICEMEN REPATRIATION PROGRAM – November 1947. http://members.trainweb.com/bedt/milrr/batbtww2repat.html) THE FINAL DISTRIBUTION OF WORLD WAR II DEAD 1945-1951. by Edward Steer and Thayer M. Boardman. www.bentprop.org/grs US Army Quartermaster Foundation: MORTUARY AFFAIRS. http://www.qmfound.com/mortuary-affairs.htm Life. Aug 11, 1947. Photo. p32. Life. Nov 3, 1947. THE WAR DEAD. pp77-79. Life. Nov 17, 1947. THE SERGEANT COMES HOME. pp 33-39.
American Battle Monuments Commission. www.abmc.gov
Tom Madden’s Pullman Project www.Pullmanproject.com
SPECIAL THANKS for official photos and archived documents.
Luther Hanson, QUARTER MASTER MUSEUM, Ft. Lee, VA James Atwater, TRANSPORTATION CORPS MUSEUM, Ft. Eustis, VA
Jim Murrie 7409 91st Ave. SW Lakewood, WA 98429 firstname.lastname@example.org Naomi Jeffery Petersen 713 E. 7th Ave. Ellensburg, WA 98926 NJP@cwu.edu
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