78 years after his death, a missing World War II soldier is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery

The remains of U.S. Army Pfc. Morris Swackhammer, who died in 1944, were not identified until 2021.
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 6:20 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Carol Finkle never had a chance to meet her uncle, U.S Army Pfc. Morris Swackhammer. But she heard stories about him throughout her entire life.

“I’ve heard my dad talk about Uncle Morris. Obviously, I never met him and everybody that was at the funeral today, there’s about 40 family members, we had never met him. But we all heard about him. And, so it was like, this is amazing. He’s coming home. We’re going to be able to give him the military honors and funeral that he deserves,” she said.

For nearly 80 years, the whereabouts of U.S Army Pfc. Morris Swackhammer remained a mystery. The 20-year-old World War II soldier died in combat overseas. But his body was never recovered. Now DNA has positively identified the missing soldier and he has finally been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

“He was only 20 when he was killed. And so, it’s nice that he’s home and that he’s with all his family now,” said Finkle as she said her cousin provided the DNA that led to the match.

Swackhammer was previously considered to be unaccounted for. His unidentified remains were buried in Germany and then moved to France before finding their final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery.

Finkle’s father, Leon, is also buried at the cemetery. The family made a special request to have both brothers buried near each other.

“There were four boys in the family. All four of the boys then went to World War II at the same time, and Morris didn’t come back. The other three thankfully did,” said Finkle. “When we found out that he (Morris) was going to be at Arlington, I made a request. Can he be in section 38 where my father’s at? And they granted that request.”

Finkle said her father described Morris as kind and as the baby of the family, whom they called Junior. She said he also spoke of the heartbreak his family felt as they never got ‘closure’ following Morris’ death. Her father, Leon, passed away before knowing that his brothers remains had been found.

“He would be so honored to be here to welcome his brother home and to have him here at Arlington and to have all the family together. I mean, just so many, many people came for this funeral and we’ve all getting to know each other and we’re all happy to be part of the Swackhammer family,” she said.

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