I’ve been reading an experts site again where experts are answering questions about military records. I should avoid that site because it frustrates me because of the misinformation these experts are spreading. Case in point: Military issued headstones after World War II.
One man commented he wanted to get the engraving on his relative’s stone fixed because it was wrong. The expert responded the government gave the Discharge Paper to the funeral home and the funeral home provided the information to the stone cutter. The stone was wrong because the stone cutter did it wrong.
Sorry, but the family had to complete a headstone application. Military stones were not just issued to everyone because the government wanted to. You had to ask for it.
The stone cutters went by the information provided on the headstone application which was provided by a family member. Family members are human and make mistakes. The government didn’t check to see if the information provided was correct. They carved what they were given. My cousin Frank Winkler’s stone is incorrect because his father wrote down the wrong Division on his application.
The Headstone Applications are available on Ancestry.com and provide unit information and a service number. This is a good source to check if you do not already have a service number! Of course you must check the unit information against other sources to ensure it is correct because we all make mistakes. But this my friends is the real scoop on errors on headstones.
Frank was actually in the 29th Infantry Division, 115th Infantry Regiment.
*Note: It is possible the expert was thinking of the requirements for a military funeral in which case you would need to prove military service and giving the funeral home a copy of the discharge paper is necessary. However, he did not consider all those men and women who died in service and were repatriated after the war. They did not have a discharge paper.
© 2014, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL