Timothy Barger holds the repaired burial marker of Pvt. Clair Buckley, Sept. 26, 2011. The bent burial marker was brought to Barger after being found alongside the highway last year. Barger's efforts to repair the marker and find Buckley's resting place have paid off. The marker is to be returned soon to Losantville, Ind. Photo by Jill Swank
| ||EDINBURGH, Ind. (10/24/2011) – A son and husband, a man who served his country, an unmarked grave, gone but not to be forgotten -- this was the case for Pvt. Clair Buckley. |
Thanks to staff at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, the burial marker of a veteran of both world wars has been returned to its proper place, after being found alongside the shoulder of State Road 40 by an Indiana Guardsman. Buckley died without children to carry on his memory, but now his life is remembered by those involved in restoring his burial marker to Riverside Cemetery in Losantville, Ind.
Approximately a year ago, a soldier on his way to annual training stopped on State Road 40 to pick up a piece of bent metal. What seemed like trash was actually a grave marker with the name Clair Buckley on it. According to Directorate of Emergency Services, Emergency Management Coordinator, Tim Barger, the soldier told him he brought it in to the Joint Operations Center because he thought they would do the right thing and find its home.
The marker was bent at about a 90 degree angle in the center, Barger said. He said he called Chief Myles Clayburn, who was working at the maintenance shop at the time, to see if his people could repair the damaged marker.
“I passed it off to Sgt. Dale Yockey, a welder. Yockey said he was going to determine what type of metal the marker was made of and then rearrange the molecules to straighten it out without breaking it in the center,” said Clayburn.
“After finding out that it was made of copper, he baked it in the oven at max temperature all day. Each day, for a few days, he would take it out of
|the oven after about eight hours and straighten it out just a little bit,” said Clayburn.|
Seeing that the grave marker had been repaired and polished, Barger started doing research to find out more about Buckley, so he could return the marker to its home. Barger said he received help locating details about Buckley from Staff Sgt. Aaron Cooper, Joint Operations Center, noncommissioned officer in charge.
“Staff Sgt. Cooper joined Geneology.com so we could get more information about Buckley. Through research we found out that Mr. Buckley was a veteran of World War I and World War II, as a Marine. He was married to Hazel Grey and lived in Hagerstown, Ind., when he passed away in 1964. We got plenty of information, such as his draft card,” said Barger.
The information online did not include where Buckley had been buried.
“I checked Ancestry.com too for information, but it didn't give us much more than what we had already found out. I thought it was interesting that someone had brought in the burial marker, so I decided to help out where I could,” said Cooper.
This research led Barger to contact the United States Department of Veterans Affairs division in Indianapolis to find details about where Buckley is buried.
“When Veterans Affairs replied, they said that they didn't have any records for him and advised us via email to destroy the burial marker if we didn't find a place to put it,” said Barger.
Barger then tried to contact relatives that were listed on the genealogy website.
“I went to the genealogy website to find out the people that were listed as his relatives. He had no living children that we could contact, but there were some other relatives. They were too young and didn't remember him or where he was buried,” Barger said.
Hitting another dead end, Barger tried to contact cemeteries and funeral homes near Hagerstown, Buckley's last known residence.
“We got a hold of a lot of cemeteries and funeral homes in the area asking them if there were any reports of vandalism or theft. No one had reported anything. We also checked with police departments and there was nothing. We were surprised since it was mowing season and no one had noticed a missing grave marker,” said Barger.
Barger's last attempt was to contact someone from the Wayne County Genealogical Society, the county which Hagerstown resides in. He received a response from a former Marine, Delola Dees, who is now the librarian for the society.
“Pvt. Clair Buckley was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Losantville, Randolph County, Ind. From my understanding this is a well kept cemetery. Pvt. Buckley's services were at Howard and Son Funeral Home in Hagerstown,” said Dees.
This information led Barger to discover the exact burial plot that Buckley is buried at.
Finally, after a year of hitting dead ends, the mystery is solved. Buckley's burial marker will soon be returned to its rightful place and his memory will always remain with those involved.
By Jill Swank
13th Public Affairs Detachment
Provided through DVIDS
Comment on this article