Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Unknown soldier given a resting place

 


A soldier, whose remains were found near Green River in the 1980s was finally put to rest last Wednesday.

According to Dana L. Pertermann, Western Wyoming Community College associate professor of anthropology and geology, director of Center For Southwest Wyoming Archaeology and director of the Federal Artifact Repository, the soldier was excavated in the 1980s on the bluffs near Green River. This occurred when survey work was being conducted for the freeway.

According to Philip Parnell, WWCC vice president of student services and athletics and Military Affairs Committee representative, the remains were found in an area that was thought to have been an unregistered cemetery.

“He was excavated by WWCC archaeologists and brought back to the college for curation,” Pertermann said. “He was found with period Army issue shoes and a blue Army uniform jacket with general service buttons from the time period of the 1880s. The Army changed uniform and button designs in 1874, so this was a very easy identification.”

Pertermann said it is still unknown if the man found was still in the Army at the time of his death or if he had already completed his military service.

“It was very common for former soldiers to continue to wear their Army uniform after leaving service, as Army-issued clothes were often superior to what a regular person could afford to buy,” Pertermann said.

It’s also not known if the man was local or if he was from somewhere else, Parnell said. However, he feels the man was important based on the place originally chosen as his first resting place.

“I’m a veteran myself and I keep thinking this person must have been respected because of the beautiful location,” Parnell said.

While the remains were at WWCC, they were used for teaching purposes, which is one of the reasons why they were not interred before, Pertermann said.

When Pertermann took over as the director for the Federal Artifact Repository she began the process of reinterment, which takes time. This was a collaborative effort between WWCC, the city of Rock Springs, which donated the burial plot, Vase Funeral Home, which donated their time, the Sweetwater County Coroner’s Office and the American Legion.

A burial took place last Wednesday morning at the Rock Springs Cemetery, Parnell said the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Wyoming National Guard were on hand to help with the military service.

“It was a very nice ceremony,” Parnell said.

The soldier’s final resting place is in a section near the main flagpole, which is a way for him to be honored.

“I am simply grateful that so many people were interested in this soldier being finally lain to rest,” Pertermann said.

More research

Both Pertermann and Parnell want to conduct more research on the bluffs area. Pertermann said she’s in the process of trying to determine who owns the land that she’s interested in researching.

“If the city of Green River actually owns the land at which the burial was found, then the process of getting a permit to do research is a bit easier than the federal process, if the Bureau of Land Management owns the land,” Pertermann said. “There are grants I can apply for to help defray costs.”

“What I would love to do is seek funding to research the unregistered cemetery,” Parnell said.

 

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