The remains of a 22-year-old Army sergeant reported missing after a battle in Germany in December 1944 will be laid to rest at Calverton National Cemetery next month.
U.S. Army Sergeant Bernard J. Sweeney Jr. of Waterbury, Connecticut was reported missing as of Dec. 16, 1944, after fighting in the area of Hürtgen Forest, near Strass, Germany. Sweeney’s remains were not recovered or identified following the war. He was declared “non-recoverable” in November 1951, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Through the efforts of a historian at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, DPAA scientists and scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, Sweeney was accounted for on June 14, 2021.
The DPAA historian determined that one set of unidentified remains recovered from a minefield north of Kleinhau, Germany in 1946 possibly belonged to Sweeney. The remains had been buried in 1950 in Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium. They were disinterred in April 2019 and sent to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, for identification. There, his remains were identified using dental and anthropological analysis, mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence according to DPAA.
Sweeney entered the U.S. Army in New York City on Nov. 27, 1942 and served in Company I, 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division, in the European Theater during the Second World War.
Sweeney will be laid to rest in Calverton National Cemetery on Oct. 10.
The funeral service with full military honors is being provided by the Alexander-Rothwell Funeral Home in Wading River.
“This funeral will be of the highest honors, a service of gratitude, prestige and prayers of thanks to a soldier who gave his life so that others may live,” said Riverhead Town Council Member Ken Rothwell, who owns the Alexander-Rothwell Funeral Home.
Sweeney’s known relatives have since passed away, leaving no immediate family or next of kin, Rothwell said. The Army is hoping advance coverage of the funeral may reach relatives of the fallen soldier, Rothwell said.
For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
Patriot Guard Riders will escort Sweeney’s remains from the airport to the funeral home, Patriot Guard member Mike Osip of Riverhead said.
A horse-drawn caisson will carry Sweeney’s remains from the Alexander-Rothwell Funeral Home to Calverton National Cemetery on the morning of Oct. 10, according to a press release sent out by the funeral home.
Warrior Ranch Foundation is providing a quarter horse to serve as the riderless horse in this tribute to a fallen hero, Rothwell said. Fellow veterans, fire departments, police departments, federal, state and local government officials and community members will line the streets to attend funeral services to pay their respects to this fallen soldier, the press release said.
All funeral costs have been donated by the Rothwell family. Additional donations have been made by the Riverhead VFW, Riverhead Elks Lodge and Riverhead Rotary to help pay the cost of a horse-drawn cassion, which is traveling from a far distance to provide services, according to the press release.
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