USAF Veteran discovers unmarked graves

We publish a story last November of a WWII who’s grave went unmarked for over 65 years. Thanks to the good work done by Allen Jackson a USAF (Ret.) veteran, who has helped locate over 300 unmarked graves.

Jackson, a local military historian and who also retired from the Air Force, began a project a few years ago researching all the veterans buried in Washington County who died while in military service. He has found 315 such veterans from World War I through Desert Storm. He has located all but about 12, but he knew where they were all buried, except Mack. In fact, Jackson secured a marker for another World War II veteran buried in Oak Hill Cemetery this past year

“I’m a 26-year veteran myself and I’ve seen a lot of men whose graves have gone unmarked,” Jackson said. “A lot of them have just been forgotten, you know, if you do find the marker a lot of time it’s grown up. The grass has grown around it. No one puts a flag down for them. There’s no one left to honor them.”

So to find where Mack was buried, Jackson requested the Army’s individual personnel deceased file on him. The 46-page report said he was to be buried at West Lawn. Much of the information about Mack came from that file.

According to Army records, Mack was interred in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Margraten, Holland, on March 17, 1945. He was disinterred July 22, 1948, and sent home. Mack’s body arrived in Johnson City by train on the morning of Nov. 2 that year. He was buried again at 2 p.m. that day. No military honors were provided.

A few months later a bronze military marker was supposedly placed on Mack’s grave.

“At that point, somewhere soon after that, the grave was vandalized and the marker was stolen, so basically 62 years he’s laid here in an unmarked grave, and that’s something a hero doesn’t need, dying for our country and our community,” Jackson said.

But all that will change on Saturday. Jackson has secured a military marker for Mack. It will be placed at his grave in a public dedication and memorial service at 11 a.m. at West Lawn.

“Oh, I was very, very much impressed and excited,” Sparks said of her thoughts on Jackson’s efforts on behalf of her brother and other veterans. “I’m still excited. I thought this was very thoughtful. I thought that was very important, not only my brother but the others … I think that’s a very good suggestion because those men served our country.”

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