As vet headstones are returned, family members will be able to visit and give honor

Thursday, June 6, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- While we honor fallen service members this D-Day, we're working to unravel a mystery as the Richmond County Coroner’s Office tried match more than 100 grave stones with their burial sites.

So far, 65 grave sites have been identified. This is especially meaningful today.

It's special because soon, the veterans on those headstones will be easy to find. Coroner Mark Bowen says in the next week or so, they will be dropping off the grave markers to the cemeteries so they can be put in their rightful place and honored.

They’ll be honored just like World War II vet William G. Schafer, who survived the Normandy Invasion.

“I got to call him papa, but to others he's a hero,” said Schafer’s granddaughter, Cayce Morris.

To Morris, he was family.

“He was the stern one, kind of kept us in ship shape,” Morris said as she laughed at the memory.

But back in 1944, Schafer was in the Navy, serving on the USS Herndon as part of the invasion task force on the shores of Normandy.

“I know he was there and a part of something bigger for this country and for France,” Morris said. “It's a big part of history and he's part of it."

As we mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Morris is feeling extra proud as she visits her grandfather's grave.

“It just brings back the memories of my grandfather and the stories that my mom has told me from years past,” Morris said.

Those are now stories she gets to share with her son, teaching him our history.

Morris says even though her grandfather isn't here anymore, she's glad to see people still remembering their service.

“I'm just glad he was able to go back to Normandy to be with his comrades, even though he's not here with us physically,” Morris said. “He was there in spirit."

It's the kind of history she hopes other families will get to pass along, too.

“I'm hoping that all of them will be found and they can have their proper mark,” Morris said.

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