A funeral will be held next week at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery for the cremains of seven veterans, and the spouses of two, stored away for as much as 75 years.
The Missing in America Project works to confirm the identities of cremains that have gone unclaimed at funeral homes. When it identifies some that are eligible to be buried in a state or national veterans cemetery, it takes steps to make that happen. The Project discovered these nine sets of cremains in the St. Louis area.
National Vice President Linda Smith says one of them is Navy Captain Chauncey Ellwood Torrence, from World War II and Korea whose cremains disappeared after he died in 1973.
“It took over a year but we found him, and actually I found the family, too. They had been looking for him. When I contacted the family and told them what we’d done … that we’d like to bury him in Jefferson Barracks with full military honors, they agreed and they’ll be attending the funeral.”
Captain Torrence’s cremains were found in a storage facility in Illinois. “On the top of his urn it said ‘unknown,’ but then on the back of his urn was all his information. We don’t know how the ‘unknown’ sticker got on the top of the urn.”
Torrence served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and Korea.
The other veterans to be honored are: Corporal Karl Frederick Jack, U.S. Army, 01/09/1893 – 08/08/1937, WWII; Private First Class Fred W. Mieger, U.S. Army, 02/20/1889 – 07/10/1946, WWII; Sergeant Thomas Lower, U.S. Army, died 08/17/1964, WWI; Sergeant Charles Workman Rapp, U.S. Army, 01/16/1897 – 04/24/1967, WWI and his wife, Leona; Private First Class Philip Rothenberg, U.S. Army, 01/27/1901 – 12/14/1968, WWI; 1st Sergeant William J. Duggan, U.S. Army 01/17/1911 – 07/26/1997, WWII and his wife, Helen.
The ceremony is Thursday, June 7 at 1:00 at Jefferson Barracks.
Smith says the Missing in America Project is looking for active volunteers and donations. Visit its website to find out more.