1946 Pamphlet Produced by the Quartermaster Corps for Next of Kin of Deceased Service Personnel from World War II
“Tell me about my boy” is the request most frequently sent to the quartermaster general of the army by next of kin who want additional information on the progress of the war department’s program for the return and final burial of those who died overseas in World War II.
The requests are inspired through the fact that the arrangements for carrying out the wishes of the congress which authorized the place for final disposition of remains must, to use the military term, be phased with the availability of transport to and from overseas, the climatic conditions in many different parts of the world and the facilities available at home for the production of many items needed in this work. The purpose of, this pamphlet is to answer those questions most frequently asked about the program. Of course, it may not answer all questions. If there are further questions about which you are concerned after you have perused this pamphlet, write to: the Office of the Quartermaster General, m
Memorial Division, Washington 25, D.C.. You will receive an accurate, prompt reply. (webmaster’s note: this is an historical document, address is no longer valid)
The information herein was compiled by the technical information branch, office of the quartermaster general. Under the supervision of the war department public relations division. 1 December 1946
World war II brought death to more than 300,000 Americans who were serving their country overseas.
While the war was on, most of these honored dead were buried in temporary united states military cemeteries. Some were buried in isolated graves. These latter are being located as fast as possible and are buried in these temporary military cemeteries. Some were lost at sea. Other remains still never be recovered.
Now Congress has passed and the president has signed a bill which authorizes the war department to take steps to provide a reverent final burial for those who gave the last full measure of devotion.
Within the War Department, the Quartermaster Corps is to direct the program, which includes all army, navy, marine and coast guard personnel who died overseas since 3 September 1939, as well as civilians who were in the service of the United States.
Seeking information from unauthorized persons is inadvisable. Official sources alone should be sought to avoid the dissemination of erroneous information and the disappointment which a wrong answer might bring.
What the government plans to do
Our American dead of, World War II lie buried in cemeteries in almost every portion of the globe.
While these service people and civilians gave their lives for their country, the government now feels it is the right and privilege of the next of kin to decide where these valiant dead shall rest.
The government wants to carry out all feasible wishes of the next of kin. It will carry out these wishes without regard for rank, race, creed, or color.
In order to do this, the War Department will seek to determine from its records the person authorized to decide the question of final burial. A letter of inquiry will then be sent with a questionnaire to be filled out, accompanied by a pamphlet describing the program. By filling out and returning the questionnaire to the war department, the relative who has the right to make such a decision may designate the place of burial of the deceased.
Anyone who received notification of death from the armed forces and who since receiving that notice has changed his or her address, should send the correct present address to the office of the quartermaster general, memorial division, Washington 25, D.C.. The reply should also state the relationship of the recipient of the letter to the deceased.
All relatives will not receive the letter of inquiry and questionnaire at the same time. It will be sent only when the time approaches to return the remains. This return from cemeteries overseas has been planned by the war department to take place in an orderly, logical operational manner.
To make this clear, let’s take a typical situation:
Two women are next-door neighbors in the same city. Both had sons who died in the pacific. The first woman may receive a letter of inquiry from the war department today. That is because her son is buried in the United States Army Cemetery at Homelani, on the island of Hilo, territory of Hawaii. This is one of the first
Eight cemeteries which will be evacuated.* the second woman does not receive a letter until months later. The reason. For this is that her son was buried in a cemetery which perhaps, for reasons of distance, cannot be evacuated until some months hence.
The War Department will carry out this program as quickly as is consistent with efficient and reverent operation. It will do its work with the dignity befitting any action involving our valiant dead.
Congress has set a time limit of five years for completion of this program. Quartermaster general of the army t. B. Larkin estimates it can be completed in less time. How soon, however, it is impossible to estimate at the present time due to the magnitude of the operations involved.
*the other seven are: Henri Chapelle in Belgium, and the following in the territory of Hawaii; Makaweki on Kauai; Makawao on Maui; and Scofield Barracks, Makapu, Nuuanu and Halawa on oahu.
Who is concerned
Who may make a decision as to final burial of service personnel, or civilians who died overseas in the service of the United States during world war ii?
In the absence of special circumstances, the war department will recognize the wishes of relatives for final burial in the following order:
If the deceased were married: the surviving spouse has the first and final right. However, he or she must not have been divorced or separated at the time of death, or since remarried.
If the husband or wife has remarried, or the parties were divorced or separated, prior to his death, then the preference passes to sons who are over 21 years of age.
If there is no son over 21 years of age, the preference passes to the daughters who are over 21 years of age.
If there are children under age, or no children at all, then the right to dispose of remains passes to surviving relatives in the order of their relationship to the deceased.
If the deceased were not married at the time of death, then the decision rests first with the father. The mother has next rights in the matter.
After the father and mother, brothers over 21 years of age, in the order of their seniority, and sisters over 21 years of age, in the order of their seniority, may make the decision.
If there are brothers and sisters under age, or no brothers or sisters at all, the right to dispose of remains passes to other relatives of the deceased in the order of their relationship.
Relinquishing these rights
The Judge Advocate General has rendered an opinion that the right to dispose of remains may be waived or relinquished.
However, in the event of such waiver or relinquishment, the right to direct disposition of remains must pass to the person next on the list of those eligible and may not be assigned to anyone by a person relinquishing his or her rights.
The four options
In regard to the final burial of those who died overseas during World War II while serving in the american armed forces, next of kin may select one of four options.
These are the four options:
1. Remains may be returned to the United States or any possession or territory thereof, for interment by next of kin in a private cemetery.
2. Remains may be returned to a foreign country, the homeland of the deceased or the next of kin, for interment by next of kin in a private cemetery.
3. Remains may be interred in a permanent united states military cemetery overseas.
4. Remains may be returned to the United States for interment in a national cemetery.
What these options mean
In all of the above-cited options, all costs of exhumation, preparation of remains, casketing and forwarding to place designated by the next of kin (or his duly authorized representative) will be borne by the government of the United States.
For military personnel the government will provide a flag of the United States to be used for proper draping of casket during interment services. If the next of kin of deceased is present at the time of interment, the flag will be presented to him. Should the next of kin not be present, a flag of the United States will be forwarded to him upon his request to the Quartermaster General, Memorial Division, Washington 25, D.C. this flag is presented as a keepsake in memory of the deceased and the cause in which he fell. Printed directly below is further information about each of the options.
1. If it is decided by next of kin to have the remains of the deceased returned to the United States for interment in a private cemetery, the. Government will contribute a sum not to exceed $50, in addition to the services described above. This money is to defray actual burial expenses.
Costs or expenses over $50 must be paid for by the person who contracted for the services rendered.
Religious services will be arranged by the next of kin. Local veterans’ organizations may assist next of kin in arranging for military rites at the cemetery,
If that is desired by the next of kin. This includes providing honor guard, buglers and firing squad.
Arrangements for the burial plot in private cemeteries at home and abroad are the responsibility of the next of kin.
When burial is in a private cemetery the government, upon request, will provide and forward the selected government approved type headstone or grave marker to the railroad station nearest the cemetery of burial. The cost of the headstone or grave marker, as well as the cost of its transportation to the proper railroad station, will be borne by the government. The cost of subsequent transportation to the cemetery and erection must be paid for by whosoever contracts for or orders such transportation and erection.
2. If it is desired to have the remains of a deceased interred in a private cemetery in a foreign country, the homeland of the deceased or of the next of kin, the United States government, in addition to the provisions of no. I above, will give assistance in obtaining medical clearance and procurement of reinterment authority. However, next of kin must arrange for burial plot and such religious services and local military rites as may be desired. Upon application to the office of the quartermaster general, memorial division, Washington 25. D. C., after interment, the next of kin will be furnished instructions regarding the manner of submitting claim for reimbursement of a sum not to exceed $50 to cover expenses incurred during final interment.
3. If it is desired to have the remains of a relative interred in a permanent united states military cemetery overseas, all expenses incidental to such interment will be paid by the government.
The establishment of permanent military cemeteries overseas by the American government is contemplated. These cemeteries will be located in both the European and Pacific areas. Just where the cemeteries will be located it is not possible to determine at the present time.
When next of kin request reburial in a permanent military cemetery, remains interred in a temporary military cemetery will be removed from their present location, prepared for reburial, casketed, and transferred to the site of final interment and reburied there, all at government expense.
A chaplain of the faith of the deceased, catholic, protestant or Jewish, will conduct appropriate religious services at the time of this reburial.
The location of the permanent burial site will then be communicated to next of kin. A temporary grave marker, cross, or Star of David, will identify the grave until it can be replaced with a properly inscribed government approved type headstone.
4. If the deceased was a member of the armed forces of the United States, next of kin may request burial in a national cemetery in the united states.
There are national cemeteries located in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, the District of Columbia. There is also a national cemetery in Sitka, Alaska.
When interment in a national cemetery is desired, there will be no cost to next of kin for the grave site, the opening of the grave or the actual interment and closing of the grave. The government approved type of headstone will be erected without cost. Remains may be forwarded directly to the national cemetery and the religious services desired by next of kin held there. Remains also may be sent first to a place other than a national cemetery and later to the national cemetery for interment. Subsequent transportation to the national cemetery, however, will not be at government expense; such costs are an obligation of the next of kin or whosoever contracts for or engages such transportation. However, this expense may be paid out of the $50 allowance mentioned previously.
Identification of remains
Next of kin will not receive a letter of inquiry regarding disposition of remains until they have been positively identified as those to which next of kin are entitled.
Every possible step has been taken to make absolutely positive identification of remains. No effort has been considered too great attention was given to even the smallest details.
Once identity of remains was established, evidence of identity was buried with the remains and thus indicated on the grave marker. When removal and reburial elsewhere became necessary, or becomes necessary, all records are again checked and all evidence of identity again examined.
Military personnel especially trained in identification work supervise and directly control these operations.
From the time of exhumation until their reception by next of kin, remains will be under constant guard by military escort.
Thus, there is absolutely no question of the positive identification of remains.
In keeping with the dignity and reverence of the repatriation program, military escorts will accompany remains at all times.
Escorts will accompany remains from the ports of New York and San Francisco to the fifteen distribution centers. From these centers a military escort of equal or higher rank, grade or rating and the same branch of service as the deceased will be designated to travel with the remains to the point designated by next of kin.
It has long been the custom to accord members of the armed forces certain honors at the time of their burial.
These usually consist of a guard of honor, a squad which fires a final salute and a bugler who sounds taps. In the case of those service people whose next of kin decide to have the remains buried in a permanent united states military cemetery overseas, such final rites will be performed by the army.
Some next of kin who decide to have the remains of their loved ones returned to the United States for final burial, in either a national cemetery or a private cemetery, will desire to have such honors paid at the burial service.
It is suggested that in cases were next of kin desire that military honors be paid the deceased, that a veterans organization in the vicinity be informed.
Certain veterans groups are prepared and anxious to render such service to the families of deceased service personnel. Full information as to the rites which can be performed at the time of burial will be given gladly by authorized personnel of these organizations.
In cases where no veterans organization which can perform such services exists, it is suggested that the next of kin seek out the advice of the commanding officer of the nearest army, navy, marine or coast guard installation.
The war department is committed to a policy of carrying out every feasible wish of the next of kin.
The war department has no preference relating to any of the four options.
It is the government’s desire to accomplish the program in the shortest possible time and with the greatest degree of efficiency.
To this end, every facility of the war department will be put at the disposal of the people of the United States.
If further information is desired, write to memorial division, office of the quartermaster general, Washington 25, D.C. or the commanding officer of the nearest American graves registration distribution centers. These are:
Brooklyn Army Base, Brooklyn, N. Y. Schenectady General Depot, Schenectady, N. Y.
Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot, Philadelphia, PA.
Charlotte Quartermaster Depot, Charlotte, N. C.
Atlanta General Depot, Atlanta, GA.
Memphis General Depot, Memphis, Tenn.
Columbus General Depot, Columbus, Ohio
Chicago quartermaster depot, Chicago, Ill
San Antonio General Depot, San Antonio, Texas
Fort Worth Quartermaster Depot, Fort Worth, Texas
Kansas City Quartermaster Depot, Kansas City, Mo.
Utah General Depot, Ogden, Utah
Seattle General Depot, Seattle, Washington
San Francisco Port of Embarkation, San Fran., Ccalif.
Mira Loma Quartermaster Depot, Mira Loma, Calif.
2808-QMTTS-Camp Lee, Va.-12-11-46-12,000