KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A World War I hero has been reunited with his tombstone 86 years after his death thanks to an East Tennessee family who could not let his legacy be forgotten.
“It’s just really been amazing,” Richard Jones said. “It’s a great story.”
Richard Jones never knew his grandfather, but at age 68, he is learning more about him than he ever knew.
“I never knew that much about him, just his name and that he got killed in World War I and then to find out the tombstone was never put up and he was a war hero,” Jones said. “It’s just been really amazing that someone like this found it.”
His grandfather, Cpl. James Trenton Jones died a war hero, earning the Distinguished Service Cross during the First World War. But when he was laid to rest 86 years ago, his tombstone never came, until now.
“It ended up at my brother’s in a rock garden,” Gary Lowe said. “My brother kept it for 20 something years hoping someday in the future we can find the owner.”
The Lowe brothers are East Tennessee veterans, and they have spent the past 20 years trying to return Cpl. Jones’ original headstone.
“I started my search, hit some dead ends, but I kept on persevering, found out Corporal Jones received the distinguished service cross and I realized I have the tombstone of an American hero,” Lowe said. “Why is this not in a cemetery somewhere?”
A crowd of East Tennessee veterans marked Cpl. Jones’ grave for the very first time at his Berry Lynnhurst Ceremony gravesite, even holding a military ceremony in his honor.
“To be able to mark his grave after 86 years after all these of it being unmarked and to mark it with the original marker is very unique and a very fulfilling story that we can bring it home,” Jeff Berry, Funeral Director of Berry Lynnhurst Funeral Home and Ceremony, said.
At the ceremony, Richard Jones said all he could think about was his late father, the son of Cpl. Jones, who could not be there to witness the historic moment.
“I wish that he could be alive to see this,” Jones said.