On the 4th of July — in Vine Grove, Kentucky — Private Stanislaw J. Komla will be eulogized. It was in 1939 the 49 year-old was laid to rest. For 70 years, he was know only as the Unknown Soldier — until a local family decided 70 years was just too long.
"When my grandmother’s grave was being dug in 1949, the casket of the solider was discovered in Saint Brigid cemetery," said Rineyville, KY, Postmaster Becky Miller. "All that was known at the time was 10 years earlier the soldier died from an explosion at Fort Knox. The Catholic had no family to claim his remains, so Army officials asked if he could be buried in the Vine Grove cemetery.
"Without family to file for his military marker, the grave was unmarked," Miller said. "My mother always wondered about the solider. She wanted to have his grave marked with a proper military plaque and she passed this longing on to her children."
Four years ago the Knights of Columbus purchased a small stone that said unknown solider and it was placed at the head of the grave. While this offered some comfort to family members, Miller said they wanted more.
As a Postmaster, Miller says she meets a lot of people. When she met Vietnam Veteran C.T. Christie, she asked him if anything could be done to find out the name of the soldier in order to mark his grave properly. "He said if I could get a copy of his death certificate we could research his military files."
At the time Saint Brigid Church was going through files and boxes of paperwork to update cemetery records. "On the day we were making arrangements to bury my mother, we were told the soldier’s death certificate had been found," said Miller. "Our mother had her wish granted hours after her death — Private Stanislaw J. Komla was no longer unknown."
Christie contacted Missing in America. They, in turn, located Private Komla’s records and ordered his military grave marker.
"On July 4, at 1 p.m., there will be a service in honor of Private Komla at the cemetery. The public is welcome," said Miller. "Private Stanislaw J. Komla — you were not forgotten."