A graphic with a Sept. 25 article about the discovery of a World War I soldier's remains in France misstated the number of U.S. war dead whose remains have been found but not identified. The military lab that handles such cases has about 1,100 boxes of unidentified remains. About 40 percent of the boxes contain remains from the Vietnam War, 40 percent from the Korean War, 19 percent from World War II and 1 percent from other conflicts. But many of the boxes contain more than one set of remains.
WWI Soldier Comes Home at Long Last
Monday, September 25, 2006
Missing in action, presumed dead.
And eventually he faded from living memory. His generation passed away, with everyone who loved him, everyone who mourned him. Time rendered him faceless. He was just a name, one of hundreds chiseled in limestone in a cemetery chapel 4,000 miles from home.
LUPO FRANCIS PVT 18TH INF
1ST DIV JULY 21 1918 OHIO
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. Tomorrow, 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.
Lupo, killed at 23, most likely on his first day in heavy fighting, will get a fine Arlington send-off, with all the Army's Old Guard solemn pomp: a horse-drawn caisson; a bugler; rifle volleys; a tri-folded American flag for his next of kin, a niece born 15 years after the armistice.
There's great solace in that Arlington tradition, if not always for a slain soldier's family, then for the military, comforted and reaffirmed by the enduring ritual. Perhaps no one alive now met this private; but he fell in uniform, and that's what matters to the Army.
The niece, Rachel Kleisinger, says she is probably the only surviving descendant of Lupo's who knew he existed before his remains were found. And she'll be the only person at the service who knows for sure what he looked like, from a photo she saw as a girl.
His battalion was pushing through wheat fields in northern France under German artillery and machine-gun fire that summer Saturday when Lupo was killed. Hastily buried in a shell crater, he was left behind with the rest of the dead as the battalion kept up its advance.
The grave, a few feet deep, one of many in those fields, was meant to be temporary. But war is chaotic and infinitely cruel. What happened to Lupo in combat, what became of his body, was never officially recorded.