Photo Information

Marines from Marine Barracks Washington salute during the funeral for 1st Sgt. George Humphrey, a Marine who fought and died in World War I, at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., June 23, 2010. Humphrey died Sept. 15, 1918, during combat operations in France, but his remains were missing until two French citizens found them in September and notified authorities.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Benjamin Harris

WWI Marine finally returns home

23 Jun 2010 | Lance Cpl. Benjamin Harris

The remains of a Marine killed in action during World War I, were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., June 23, after they were presumed missing for more than 90 years.

“It goes to show our country has not forgotten those who were lost overseas,” said Navy Capt. Guy Lee, the regional chaplain for Naval District Washington.

The remains of 1st Sgt. George Humphrey, a native of Ithaca, N.Y., were found in a wooded area in northeastern France in September, said Gunnery Sgt. William Dixon, the funeral director at Marine Barracks Washington.

According to a Department of Defense release, Humphrey, who was with 6th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Brigade, attached to U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division, was killed Sept. 15, 1918, during the battle of Saint-Mihiel, the first major American-led offensive of the war. His Marines hastily buried him the next day. A year later, one of the Marines sent a letter to Humphrey’s brother with details of where the first sergeant was buried, but attempts to recover the body were unsuccessful. The family said they still kept thinking of him.

“My mother used to point at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and say ‘That could be George,’” said Edith Scott, whose mother was Humphrey’s cousin.

Humphrey was born Feb. 15, 1889, to Welsh immigrants and joined the Marine Corps out of Ithaca, Sept. 13, 1917.
Scott said a year later, he was leading Marines in the Great War.

“You’re always going to be proud of your family,” she said. “But to hear about the impact he had impressed us even more.”

French citizens were searching for war relics near the town of Rembercourt-sur-Mad when they found remains they believed belonged to a World War I American service member. They notified French authorities, who then notified the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, said Dixon. JPAC used a variety of forensic identification tools, including dental comparisons, and circumstantial evidence to identify the remains.

“I just hope that families of people who are missing in action see this and realize that there is still hope that their loved ones will be found,” Scott said.

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