Service will pay tribute to prisoners of war
by Klaus Duncan
Special to The Star
Nov 06, 2013 | 831 views |  0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The annual memorial service at the German Italian Cemetery at McClellan will be at noon Nov. 17. German, Italian and U. S. military officials will place wreaths at the graves of the prisoners of war during World War II.

Col. Peter Eschrig (ret.) will give the welcome. Chaplain Jim Wilson will give the invocation and benediction. The Jacksonville State University ROTC will present the colors. Italian representative Col. Clemente D’Amato, German representative Lt. Col. Stefan Deppe, German Consulate representative Michael Hugh Johnson, and U. S. Rep. Vaughn Stewart will speak.

For almost four decades, services have been held at the cemetery to pay tribute to the 26 German and three Italians buried there. Only four German soldiers buried there were interned at the Fort McClellan prisoner of war camp. The others died and were buried in camps in nearby states. When these camps closed, the remains were moved for final burial at the Fort McClellan Cemetery.

The third Sunday in November has been the traditional date for the service as it coincides with many Memorial Day services in Europe. The U. S. Army conducts these dignified services each year. Military wear dress uniforms, the honor guard presents flags, and the Army Band provides appropriate music.

Representatives from all three countries speak and place wreaths at the site. A reception follows with fellowship and renewed friendships.

When the post closed, local civilian citizens took up the responsibility of the annual service.

While there are other German and Italian prisoners of war buried in the U. S. it’s believed that the service at Fort McClellan is the only one that continues to honor these fallen dead. Volunteers give their time, provide food and support this event that usually has 85-100 attendees.

The service follows the traditional format established by the military. The JSU ROTC Department provides the color guard, civilian leaders speak, flags are placed on each grave, wreaths are laid and a reception follows.

The cemetery is on Shipley Drive, off Alabama 21, north of Anniston, just across from Wal-Mart.

A reception will follow at the Montieth Amhitheater, where Klaus Duncan will give the welcome. Pete Conroy will speak about the amphitheater, and Joan McKinney will present recent research results. Discussions will be held, and historical items, displays and artifacts and be viewed.

In case of inclement weather, the services will be held at Monteith Amphitheater. Signs will be placed along the route.
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Service will pay tribute to prisoners of war by Klaus Duncan
Special to The Star

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