By MICHAEL COLLINS
Scripps Howard News Service
September 23, 2006
The remains of Army Pvt. Francis Lupo of Cincinnati will be buried with full military honors Tuesday in Arlington National Cemetery nearly nine decades after he was killed during an attack on German forces near Soissons, France.
A French archaeological team discovered Lupo's remains in 2003 while doing a survey in preparation for a construction project not far from Soissons.
The recovered items included bone fragments, dental remains, a wallet with Lupo's name engraved in gold and a piece of a military boot that appeared to be a size 5 or 5-1/2.
By digging through Lupo's personnel file, Army scientists discovered that the young soldier stood just 5 feet tall, weighed 120 pounds and wore a size 5-1/2 boot.
"The 5-foot-high was apparently the shortest recorded stature of any soldier in World War I," said Larry Greer, a Pentagon spokesman who specializes in POW-MIA issues. "That helped in the ID process. The bones, the skeletal remains that they had, indicated that this was a very, very, very short person."
The discovery marks the first time that a Pentagon group charged with finding dead service members has identified the remains of a soldier killed during World War I, Greer said.
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command was founded in the 1960s to help find and identify American soldiers missing on foreign soil. Greer said there are no government records indicating that World War I remains had been found and identified prior to the 1960s.
Very little is known about Lupo, except that he was born in Cincinnati on Feb. 24, 1895, and had been employed as a supplyman by the Cincinnati Times-Star, a newspaper that is now defunct. He was 23 when he was killed.
Lupo was a member of the Army's Company E, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.
He was killed on July 21, 1918, during what came to be known as the Second Battle of the Marne. Despite heavy Allied losses, the battle is regarded as a turning point in the war, halting and reversing the final German advances toward Paris.
Though his remains had not yet been recovered, Lupo's name was listed on a monument just outside of Soissons that contains the names of all American servicemen who fought in the region during World War I but never returned from battle.
The French archaeologists discovered Lupo's remains and those of another soldier at the same burial site in 2003. Military scientists used DNA to separate the two sets of remains and help identify Lupo. The other soldier has not yet been positively identified, Greer said.
A genealogist trace Lupo's family tree to his closest living relative - a niece, Rachel Kleisinger of Florence, Ky.
Kleisinger, 73, wasn't born when her uncle was killed. But she said her grandmother talked about him occasionally.
"She really had a hard time getting over it," Kleisinger said. "She just couldn't imagine that he was gone, that he was dead. The Army took her to France, and all of these years, I thought she went there and saw a grave where he was buried. But it wasn't. It was just a name on a wall."
Kleisinger will attend Lupo's services at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday.
"I'm sorry I never got to know him," she said.
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