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Some forgotten military markers remain unplaced in Georgia

By JOZSEF PAPP | The Augusta Chronicle | Published: February 9, 2020

Finding and contacting burial sites for nearly 50 veterans whose gravestone markers were found in an abandoned funeral home continues to be a problem for the Richmond County Coroner's Office and ForcesUnited.

"The biggest problem is just finding the remains. There are some folks that didn't have any markers," said Don Clark, ForcesUnited's deputy director. "Some of the cemeteries weren't maintained. Some of them were buried at churches and the churches are no longer there anymore, so nobody was keeping up the cemeteries."

Coroner Mark Bowen said they have been able to find locations for most of the markers, but haven't been able to contact people who own or manage the cemeteries. He said they have delivered all of the local markers and believe the remaining 46 belong outside Richmond County.

"We've reached out to all that we can. We are waiting for responses back from (cemeteries). We are in the process now of maybe trying to get a letter together and try to send them to the addresses we got to see if we can get a response," Bowen said.

A Richmond County Marshal's Office deputy found 114 markers at the former Dent's Undertaking Establishment on D'Antignac Street on May 18. Some date back to the 1960s and are for military personnel who fought in World War I, World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Dent's was destroyed by fire Feb. 1. Former Augusta Fire Lt. "G.B." Hannan, who was staying at the funeral home once owned by his mother, died in the fire.

Clark said the community's support for getting the markers to their final resting places has been extraordinary. From cemetery owners waiving installation fees to regular citizens helping conduct research, Clark said the community has helped out.

"We've had a number of women who have called us or have been researching and looking up the whereabouts of a lot of the folks that we have placed the headstones," he said.

Bowen said he just wants to make sure veterans get the dignity and honor they deserve.

"It's only fair to give them what they deserve for what they've done for us," he said. "It's just really breaks my heart to know that these guys fought for us and our country and they didn't get what was owed to them in the end."

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