March 5, 2014 - Issue: Vol. 160, No. 37 — Daily Edition113th Congress (2013 - 2014) - 2nd Session
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.'' ____________________