Wednesday, June 23, 2010
United States Marine George Henry Humphrey
Before a small group of family and friends, the remains of World War I United States Marine First Sergeant George H. Humphrey were buried at Arlington National Cemetery today.
On Sept. 15, 1918, with World War I nearing an end, United States Marine George Henry Humphrey was killed by a machine gun bullet through his helmet. He was 29 when he died in the St. Mihiel offensive, the first U.S. led offensive of the war and ultimately a success. He was buried near where he fell, not far from Thiaucourt in the Lorraine region of France.
Pinned down by the Germans, George's fellow soldiers hastily buried him in the woods of rural northern France. Later a letter was sent to his brother.
"During the day, we buried your brother on the crest of that hill about 150 yards from that trail," he wrote. "Whatever personal effects your brother had were buried with him as they were shelling the hill all the time and we didn't have time to search him, and there was no one to send them in with anyway."
They drew a map and later tried to explain the location to George's family, but the grave could not be found.
At the war's conclusion, several attempts to locate Humphrey's remains through the United States Army Graves Registration personnel were uneventful. Then, in September 2009, while looking for war souvenirs near Rembercourt, where Humphrey was believed to be buried, French nationals stumbled upon several war items. They were believed to belong to a World War I American soldier. The items were turned over to the United States military.
Upon further investigation of that area from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, they recovered remains, along with additional military items, including a marksman's badge with First Sgt. George H. Humphrey's name.
An exhausting forensic investigation, along with countless evidence, backed up by dental comparisons from the scientists of JPAC laboratory, cemented the identification of First Sgt. George H. Humphrey's remains. JPAC is the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command.
It is now down to a little over 3,000 missing in action military from World War One.
His uniform had mostly disintegrated, though the helmet and some hardware survived along with coins, 30-06 ammo, a canteen, razor, toothbrush, fountain pen, tobacco pipe and a marksman badge with GH Humphrey engraved on the back. You can tell he laid undisturbed. The ammo across his chest exactly where the bandoleer was slung, the coins where his pocket one was.