East Tennessee man searches for unmarked graves of veterans
A retired Air Force veteran and historian with several East Tennessee veterans groups has made it his mission to find and document the unmarked and undermarked graves of local veterans.
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A retired Air Force veteran and historian with several East Tennessee veterans groups has made it his mission to find and document the unmarked and undermarked graves of local veterans, no matter how old.
Allen Jackson’s most recent find was on Monday at the Oak Hill Cemetery, the Johnson City Press reported. James Watson, who died in 1932 at the age of 78, was buried there in an unmarked plot alongside his family. His age at the time of his death put him at the right age to have served during the Civil War.
“So I ran back the records and found him where he served as a Confederate with Company E of the 30th Battalion Virginia Infantry,” Jackson said.
Watson is only the most recent veteran that Jackson has rediscovered. Overall, he has found 238 military veterans whose service was not noted on their headstones. Jackson takes his research beyond Oak Hill, though: “Our Washington County lads are all over the world,” he said
One Washington County serviceman who was killed in WWI was buried in Oneida County, New York, by his wife. After locating the unmarked grave, Jackson ordered a headstone and held a graveside service with help from his local Disabled American Veterans and American Legion groups. The American Legion from Oriskany Falls, New York, also helped organize the service.
“They’re like, ‘OK, what relationship are you to this guy?’ and we’re like ‘None at all,’” said Jackson. “They said, ‘Y’all drove all the way up here to do all this for someone you didn’t even know?’ and we said, ‘Well, he’s a brother.’”
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