WW II remains repatriated

Saw this column in the Boston Herald today. Thought I would share it. The services should be proud of their efforts to identify the remains of SSGT Farrell. His sisters certainly seem to appreciate it.

Sisters get chance to salute war hero brother’s remains being laid to rest 66 years after his WW II death

By Joe Fitzgerald | Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Columnists

Photo by Matt Stone

His sisters will be there to meet the plane that brings Jack Farrell home today, 66 years after hugging him goodbye.

He was 22 that day, a Boston College junior who left their Arlington home to enlist in the Army.

“It was such a different time,” Rosemary Farrell, 84, recalls. “Everyone understood patriotism then. He was a wonderful brother who took me with him everywhere, calling me Murph and never minding me tagging along. I was the tomboy. Barbara was always a lady; she still is.”

Barbara Farrell Wilson, 85, smiled. “Jack was loved by everyone. He had that kind of personality. I can still see him walking to Spy Pond with his skates hanging over his shoulder.”

Jack wound up with the Army’s 112th Infantry Regiment, spending the summer of 1944 fighting through France, Belgium and Germany, where he lost his life that fall in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest.

“He was caring for a bunch of injured soldiers in a barn,” Rosemary said. “The Germans ordered him to come out, but he wouldn’t leave his buddies. So they blew up the barn with their tank, and that’s why there was nothing left of him.”

The sisters will never forget that 1944 Thanksgiving.

“Our cousin had just become a POW in Italy,” Barbara remembers. “So his parents had Thanksgiving at our home. Our father tried so hard to cheer them up, to help them through their sorrow, having no idea what was just ahead for us.”

Two weeks later came word Jack was missing in action.

“My mother lost two people that day,” Barbara said, “because our father was never the same.”

Years went by, then decades passed.

“Jack’s picture was always in my sewing room,” Rosemary said. “Whenever I’d have a problem, I’d say, ‘C’mon, Jack, help me.’ He’s always been with me and always been 22.”

A year ago a World War II Army boot was discovered in an old mortar crater at a construction site in Kommerscheidt, along with the remains of two soldiers. When Barbara’s son read that story, he contacted the Army, and the sisters submitted DNA samples, resulting in positive identification.

Army representatives came to their home in Norwood.

“They had pictures, but told us we didn’t have to look,” Barbara said. “They were Jack’s bones and we wanted to see them.”

“They were separately wrapped,” Rosemary said, “but when you put them together you could see a skeleton from head to toe.”

There’ll be a Mass for Staff Sgt. Jack Farrell at St. Timothy’s Church in Norwood this Friday morning.

“They’re going to line his casket with an Army blanket,” Rosemary said, “then lay an Army uniform over it. I’m a quilter. I would have given them a quilt, but this is so much better because this is the way you bury a hero.

“And then someday I’ll join him because we bought what they call a double decker grave. I’ll be on top and, believe me, I’m going to make sure he never gets away again.”

Barbara laughed.

“And she means it! Oh, it’s going to be quite a day.”
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It's good to see that the effort still goes into identifying and repatriating the fallen.
A very moving story. The struggle in the Hurtgen Forest was a horrific, and largely forgotten campaign. RIP and all that, and thanks for posting David.

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