Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Home at last!

After writing about World War I last Friday this story was in the news today. From the Washington Post:

His generation passed away, with everyone who loved him, everyone who mourned him.
A lost doughboy. But now he is found.
Discovered by chance, unearthed in 2003 by archaeologists looking for ancient remains, Pvt. Francis Lupo of Cincinnati has returned from the front at last, nearly 90 years after boarding a troop ship for France. Today, the Army will bury him again, this time with honors at Arlington National Cemetery, laying to rest possibly the longest-missing U.S. soldier ever recovered and identified: a ghost of World War I.....

His battalion was pushing through wheat fields in northern France under German artillery and machine-gun fire that summer Saturday when Lupo was killed in the bombed-out French town of Ploisy. Hastily buried in a shell crater, he was left behind with the rest of the dead as the battalion kept up its advance....

Anthropologists and other specialists confirmed for the military that Lupo's bones were among those in the hole. But who was the other poor fellow?
Unknown. What's left of him is boxed on a lab shelf, a number without a name.
Another ghost.
Lupo's service record and a lab report describe a fireplug of a man -- muscular, 5 feet tall, maybe shorter, with olive skin, black hair and brown eyes. He was inducted Oct. 3, 1917, and went off to fight in size 51/2 boots.
His Sicilian-born mother, who grieved his loss terribly until she died in 1949, kept a big picture of him in uniform in her parlor.
The niece, Rachel Kleisinger, will be the only person at the service who knows for sure what Lupo looked like, from a photo she saw as a girl.
"Such a handsome boy," says Kleisinger, 73. "And very proud, I think."
Lupo grew up near Cincinnati's riverfront, one of eight siblings born to Sicilian immigrants, his father a laborer....
After a months-long U.S. buildup in France, doughboys began fighting in major battles in 1918 -- just as Lupo reached the French front -- and helped break a murderous stalemate that had consumed a generation of European youth.
The campaign, eventually known as the Second Battle of the Marne, was a victory for the Allies. Then the war ended in November.
The price for the United States: about 116,000 dead, roughly 53,000 in battle, most of the rest from illnesses.....
In 2004, bones and artifacts were delivered to the Defense Department's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii. Specialists there work to find and identify missing U.S. military personnel. None had dealt with a doughboy before.
After the lab finished its work last fall, the Army searched for next of kin, eventually finding Kleisinger in Kentucky. She is a daughter of Lupo's youngest sibling, Rose, long deceased. Rose was 7 when her brother Francis went off to Camp Sherman.
So Kleisinger will get the tri-folded flag at Arlington. No old men of Lupo's E Company will be there; of the 4.7 million Americans in uniform during his war, all but a dozen or so are dead.
And his mother, in her grave 57 years.
"I used to go to church with her and help her light the candles," Kleisinger says of Anna Lupo. "She would always ask the Blessed Mother to please bring him home. And I kept telling her, you know: 'He can't come home, Grandma. He's gone.' But she could just never accept it."

(Click on the title for a link to the entire story )