Video: WWI Veteran finally returns home

By Bob Faw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 9/26/2006 7:29:15 PM ET 2006-09-26T23:29:15

Tuesday the mournful refrain of taps wafted not just over Arlington National Cemetery, but across 4,000 miles.

They were called "doughboys" because the round, brass buttons on their uniforms looked, to some, like doughnuts. And for the last 88 years, one doughboy was little more than a name chiseled on a limestone wall in a memorial chapel in northern France.

Pvt. Francis Lupo was one of the 116,000 Americans killed in World War I. Only 23, he didn't leave much behind — some enlistment papers and a mother, devout and grieving.

The son she called "Ducce" ("Sweet") was cut down in a barrage of German artillery and machine gun fire on July 21, 1918, as American troops swept across French wheat fields in the second Battle of the Marne.

Lupo's body was hastily buried by fellow infantrymen in a shell crater, 4,000 miles from his Cincinnati home. And it lay there until three years ago, when a French archaeologist unearthed Lupo's wallet and bone fragments, later identified by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab in Hawaii.

Tuesday, in a ceremony brief though laden with pageantry, the flag that draped his coffin was presented to his only surviving descendant, a niece born 15 years after that war ended. In a ritual attended largely by strangers, the Army belatedly paid its respects.

Eighty-eight years after he fell, Francis Lupo, sleeping in an unknown grave no more; a "doughboy" forgotten no more.

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