CALVERT CITY– A search by members of American Legion Post 236 trying to find the rightful home for a veteran’s gravestone is apparently complete.
James R. Williams, a veteran of the Korean War, is buried in Ridgetop Cemetery in Crofton, Ky., according to information retrieved from the website Ancestry.com and reported to the Legion by Jeff Holmes of Elizabethtown, a genealogy and history buff originally from Calloway County.
Holmes said he has family members who served in the military and wanted to help get the stone placed where it belongs.
“It would be a shame for somebody to have to go through that,” he said.
A marble marker engraved with Williams’ name was discovered in Marshall County last week. The stone, in standard Veterans Administration style, notes that Williams served during the Korean War (1950-53) and lists the dates of his birth and death as June 11, 1930, and Feb. 16, 1997.
The stone was found leaning against a tree on property in the southern part of the county by a citizen, who wishes not to be identified. The citizen contacted two members of the American Legion, Ross Langston and Leonard Harp, who took the gravestone to the post on Highway 95.
Harp said he checked with funeral homes in Benton and found no record of anyone matching the information on the stone.
The Veterans Administration’s Community-Based Outreach Clinic in Mayfield confirmed a client on its rolls with name, military history and date of birth matching the information on the gravestone, but staff member Sara Church said the clinic had no record of that veteran being deceased.
She provided a telephone number and address in Evansville, Ind. An attempt to reach someone at that number yielded a recorded message that the number is disconnected or out of service.
Legion members will follow up on the information, Harp said.
How it came to be left on the property in Marshall County remains a mystery, but Harp said the concern of the Legion is to get in touch with survivors of Williams and return the stone to them.
“I’d be glad take it up there to ‘em,” he said.
Harp, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War who was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, equated the Legionnaires’ motivation to the long-standing American military tradition not to leave behind the bodies of soldiers who die in battle.
“It’s just a respect for the dignity and the sacrifice of every soldier and every veteran,” Harp said. “It’s a personal thing.”