Sunday, July 18, 2010

Doughboy Finally Laid to Rest at Arlington National Cemetery

91 years after Thomas D. Costello was killed in the Bois de Bonvaux, France during World War I, his remains were finally laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

After perishing from German artillery fire, Costello was buried in nearby woods, with a cross to mark his grave.

A search was carried out for several years following the war, but officials were unable to locate his body. According to the records kept on the case, the investigation was finally suspended in 1932. Many years later, relic hunters found his remains as well as those of several other soldiers in eastern France.

Based on dental records (sent to Costello’s sister after the war), evidence of a fatal head wound, and some artifacts found at the discovery site, including a rosary, French coin, and remnants of uniforms, the Defense Department’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command was able to make an identification.

This is the point at which the story takes a turn that should thrill genealogists: It was through a “Pentagon genealogist” (someone who works at the Pentagon who is a genealogist or a professional genealogist who works for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command?) that Pentagon officials were able to contact a family descendant (apparently Costello’s great-great nephew), Michael J. Frisbie. Frisbie was honored to fly in from Maine with his family in order to attend the funeral of a fallen soldier. And so, 91 years after his death, Costello received a soldier’s funeral.