Gravestones finally set to arrive for WW I veterans nearly 50 years later

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by Kevin Reece / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on April 25, 2014 at 11:51 PM

LEAGUE CITY, Texas --The graves of two World War I veterans in League City will finally have headstones, perhaps by this Memorial Day, thanks to a local genealogist who decided a half century was far too long to wait.

The graves of Frank R. Ellis and Oscar Bernard Juenger have remained unmarked in a northern section of Fairview Cemetery on N. Kansas Ave. since the veterans were buried in 1965 – February and October of that year respectively. Records show that both men, without any family members present, were buried with the help of Bacliff VFW Post 8566. Ellis, a military chef, was 76 when he died. Juenger, a retired merchant marine, died at the age of 78.

"And they didn't mark them,” said Deborah Gammon a genealogist and member of the League City Historical Society. “I mean they should have done it at the time but they didn't."

So Gammon decided she would contact the Veterans Administration to right a nearly 50-year wrong. But even though she came armed with obituaries and cemetery records a VA representative told her that only next of kin could make the request. After forwarding the VA the obituaries for the men, Gammon says a VA rep suggested she contact one of the brothers listed in the 1965 article for Frank Ellis.

“And I'm thinking in my mind 'oh the 120-year-old brother I'm supposed to find him.’ Yeah, we'll work on that,” Gammon said with a laugh.

As far as Gammon could determine, neither man had any living descendants. So she was told that if she wanted to order headstones for the graves she would need a court order.

"My friend Joyce said, 'I know a judge' so we went from there," said Gammon.

The entire process took three years. But with the requested court order the VA finally agreed earlier this month, and next month the gravestones are finally scheduled to arrive.

"I'm not doing anything other than giving them what they're entitled to,” said Gammon. "I'm very delighted that it was done, and they'll get it. They'll get their due."

Fairview Cemetery holds the remains of military veterans from as far back as the Civil War: their place in history clearly marked for the rest of League City to see. Now, thanks to a devoted genealogist and the League City Historical Society, two more will soon join them.

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