REMEMBERING PFC WILLIAM T. CARNEAL; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 37
(Senate - March 05, 2014)

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[Pages S1310-S1311]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                   REMEMBERING PFC WILLIAM T. CARNEAL

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, this April 25, PFC William T. Carneal 
will be laid to rest in his hometown of Paducah, KY. Private First 
Class Carneal made the ultimate sacrifice in giving his life in service 
of his country. I rise today to honor him and to share the remarkable 
story that culminates in his forthcoming burial--70 years after he was 
killed on the island of Saipan during the Second World War.
  William T. Carneal, known to his family as ``Teetum,'' was the 
youngest of Plummer and Johnnie Ella Hite Carneal's 10 children. Raised 
in McCracken County, KY, William's childhood was marked by tragedy and 
loss. His mother passed away when he was 18 months old and his father 
when he was 7, leaving the responsibility to raise William to his older 
sister, Ruth Anderson, and her husband, L.O.
  William graduated from Heath High School in 1939 and, like so many 
members of the ``greatest generation,'' answered his country's call of 
duty and joined the U.S. Army in 1941. In January of the following year 
he was sent to Hawaii in preparation for deployment into the Pacific 
theater.
  On July 7, 1944, his company in the 105th infantry regiment, 27th 
infantry division was engaged in hostilities with Japanese forces on 
the island of Saipan. When the enemy counterattacked, his company was 
forced to withdrawal--but William was never seen again. That day he was 
reported as missing in action, and a year later he was reported dead at 
the age of 24. Soon the war ended. Yet William's remains were never 
found--still buried somewhere in the Saipan soil.
  His remains stayed lost for nearly 70 years--the chances of ever 
finding them no better than finding a needle in a haystack. In March of 
2013, however, an unlikely source happened upon that needle. Keuntai, a 
Japanese nonprofit dedicated to finding the remains of Japanese 
soldiers killed during the war, was conducting an excavation on Saipan 
when they discovered the remains of five American soldiers--one of whom 
bore a 1939 Heath High School class ring. Carneal's dog tags were 
found, too, along with some loose change and a pocket-watch.
  To confirm the identity of the remains, Keuntai passed them along to 
the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command for DNA testing. On December 4 of 
last year, the tests confirmed what Carneal's surviving family members 
already knew--the class ring and the remains belonged to William T. 
Carneal.
  William's family--nephews J.T. and Carlton, niece Mary Carneal 
Christian, great-nephew Jimmy Fields, and great nieces Carol Ann Fields 
Lindley and Beverly Fields Swift--were given the option of a burial at 
Arlington Cemetery. But after 70 years they thought it was time for 
William to come home to Kentucky, where he will be buried next to his 
sister Ruth.
  The military believes that a grenade blast, possibly part of a 
suicide attack, killed William and the four other soldiers he was found 
buried with under 3 feet of clay. On April 25 of this year, William's 
birthday, he will be laid to his final resting place. He will receive 
the full honors of a military burial, including a 21-gun salute and a 
flag ceremony. Military personnel from Fort Campbell will preside over 
the funeral, and local World War II veteran Edward ``Earl'' Gidcumb 
will play taps.
  As of December 19, 2013, there remain 73,640 U.S. personnel whose 
bodies have not been recovered from the Second World War. Most never 
will. But in this story, Sandy Hart, curator of the Kentucky Veteran 
and Patriot Museum in Wickliffe, KY, finds solace for the families of 
all the missing. ``When Teetum is brought home,'' she said, ``a part of 
them are all going to be brought home.''
  I ask that my U.S. Senate colleagues join me in honoring PFC William 
T. Carneal's service to this country and all those who played a role in 
the incredible story of returning his remains, at last, to his old 
Kentucky home.
  Mr. President, the Paducah Sun recently published an article 
regarding the incredible discovery and return of William's remains. I 
ask unanimous consent that the full article be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                 [From the Paducah Sun, Feb. 26, 2014]

             Family Gets World War II Casualty's Belongings

                           (By Laurel Black)

       Most people wouldn't choke up at the sight of a 
     deteriorated poncho, a rust-eaten key or a decades-old pocket 
     knife. But tears rose to the eyes of several members of 
     Private First Class William T. Carneal's family on Tuesday as 
     they perused the items found with the World War II veteran's 
     remains.
       The belongings, which included Carneal's dog tags, belt 
     buckle and a 1939 class ring from Heath High School, were 
     recovered on the Japanese island of Saipan, where Carneal was 
     killed in July 1944. After nearly seven decades without news 
     of their relative, Carneal's descendants had little reason to 
     believe they'd ever recover his possessions or remains.
       But Carneal's possessions finally crossed the ocean and 
     arrived in his family's hands. During a brief presentation at 
     Reidland Clothing Company, U.S. Army Sergeant Tyler Holt 
     unpacked a brown cardboard box and returned the objects, one 
     by one.
       ``We kind of feel like now he's home with us,'' nephew J.T. 
     Carneal said after the presentation.
       J.T. Carneal added that the family has also found closure 
     because of a recent investigation that revealed the cause of 
     his uncle's death. The military believes that William 
     Carneal, whose body was found with four others under more 
     than three feet of clay, was killed by a grenade blast during 
     a suicide attack by enemy forces, his nephew said.

[[Page S1311]]

       ``It's a blessing to us that the whole family now can know 
     what happened and put it to rest,'' Carneal said. ``He gave 
     his life for his country.''
       Except for a dog tag that will be given to the Veterans 
     Museum in Wickliffe, the belongings will remain in the hands 
     of Carneal's descendants. Carneal is also survived by nephew 
     Carlton M. Carneal, niece Mary Carneal Christian, great-
     nephew Jimmy Fields, and great-nieces Carol Ann Fields 
     Lindley and Beverly Fields Swift.
       The process of finding and returning Carneal's possessions 
     and remains was hardly straightforward. Japanese non-profit 
     Keuntai, which searches for the bodies of Japanese soldiers 
     killed in World War II, discovered Carneal's remains a year 
     ago and turned them over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting 
     Command. The class ring gave the family hope that their 
     ancestor had at last been found, but DNA testing was required 
     to confirm Carneal's identity. The results arrived in 
     December.
       After Tuesday's presentation, the family gathered to make 
     plans for Carneal's interment, scheduled for April 25, his 
     birthday. Although Carneal could have been buried at 
     Arlington National Cemetery, the family agreed that he should 
     be laid to rest next to sister Ruth Anderson at Palestine 
     United Methodist Church in West Paducah. Following a brief 
     ceremony at 1 p.m. at Milner & Orr, Carneal will receive full 
     military honors at the cemetery, including a 21-gun salute 
     and flag ceremony. The military personnel of Fort Campbell 
     will preside over the funeral. Local World War II veteran 
     Edward ``Earl'' Gidcumb has offered to play taps.
       ``So many families exist that don't have any idea where 
     their loved ones are,'' said Gidcumb, who also served in the 
     Pacific theater, ``and it's an honor to be involved in this 
     whole thing.''

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