Family finds grave of World War II soldier -- 63 years laterby Tom Crann, Minnesota Public Radio
On this 63rd anniversary of D-Day, a pivotal time during World War II, we have a story of a soldier from Plainview, Minn. who died in France in the weeks following the invasion of Normandy. Two of his survivors share his story, and tell us why it took his family 63 years to find his grave.
St. Paul, Minn. — Today is the 63rd anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944 and in the days following, more than half a million Allied troops landed on the French coast and began driving back Nazi soldiers.
Some 29,000 members of the U.S. military lost their lives in the ensuing Battle of Normandy. More than 4,000 of them are laid to rest at the American cemetery in Brittany, in the town of St. James, France.
One of those soldiers was from Plainview, Minn. Pfc. Robert J. McGrath was 22 when he died in the Battle for Brest, part of the massive effort that began on D-Day.
McGrath died in September 1944, but his family never knew what happened to his remains -- until just a few months ago.
McGrath's sister, Margaret Kreye, lives these days in Bloomington. In March of this year, she got a phone call from a second cousin, Mark MacLeod, whom she had never met or heard from before.
In doing family research, MacLeod discovered that he had a relative who died in World War II. That relative was Kreye's brother, Robert McGrath.
MacLeod called Kreye to introduce himself, and tell her that he had discovered the grave of her brother in the American cemetery near Normandy, France.
MPR's Tom Crann talked with Margaret Kreye and Mark MacLeod about how it took 63 years to find Robert McGrath's grave.
- All Things Considered, 06/06/2007, 4:50 p.m.