Remains of Charleston World War II soldier identified, burial set in Coles County (2024)

Community members will gather at 8 a.m. Monday at Janesville Cemetery for a Memorial Day ceremony held by the Mattoon Veterans of Foreign Wars to honor the fallen veterans buried there.

The roster of those veterans will soon grow by one, U.S. Army Pvt. Harold O. Poulter, 23, of Charleston, who fell nearly eight decades ago in Germany during World War II but whose remains were only recently identified.

A public graveside service with full military rites for Poulter has been scheduled for 2 p.m. June 4 in the Janesville Cemetery, where his parents and other family members are buried.

Remains of Charleston World War II soldier identified, burial set in Coles County (1)

Poulter's niece,Lynn Graves of Greenup, said she was surprised three months ago when Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency representatives contacted her, as his oldest living family member, to say his remains had been identified through forensic analysis.

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"I couldn't hardly believe it, after all these years. It was 79 years later that they identified him," Graves said, noting she had not known that other family had earlier provided DNA samples for this effort. She said the investigators also examined dental records and other data. "It's just remarkable."

Poulter was killed in action on Feb. 8, 1945, in Biesdorf, Germany, while serving with the 318th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reported that remains of U.S. soldiers were recovered in 1951 in a wooded area in the vicinity ofBiesdorf, but they could not be identified and were subsequently interred at what is now the North Africa America Cemetery in Tunisia.

In September 2022, U.S. Department of Defense and American Battle Monuments Commission personnel exhumed this particular group of remains as part of their ongoing efforts to identify unknown fallen service members. This move led to the identification of Poulter.

TheDefense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has provided Graves and each of her siblings with copies of a book that details Poulter's service record and the identification process.

Remains of Charleston World War II soldier identified, burial set in Coles County (2)

Information contained in this book has helped Graves get to know an uncle who died before she was born and when her mother, Mary Jane Poulter (his little sister), was just 15 years old.

Graves said she met at length with personnel from theDefense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Army as they helped arrange for returning Poulter's remains, at no cost to the family, and for the military rites at the graveside service.

"They were so compassionate with everything they did," Graves said.

In addition, Graves said she has been touched byBarkley Funeral Chapel in Greenup and Toledo, Doric Products in Marshall, and Rex Vault in Newton donating their services and a stainless-steel burial vault.

Barkley Funeral Chapel ownerScott Stults said he is honored to be part of bringing Poulter back home and proud of all those who have worked to identify him and other unknown fallen service members.

"After all these years, they are still trying to find out who those guys were that gave the ultimate sacrifice," Stults said.

Graves said the outpouring of support also has included the motorcyclists with the Patriot Guard Riders offering to escort the hearse carrying her uncle's remains from the Indianapolis International Airport to Janesville Cemetery on June 4.

Community members are invited to gather at 1 p.m. June 4 on the courthouse square in Toledo to honor Poulter as his funeral procession passed through town.

Graves said the good fortunate surrounding the identification of her uncle's remains also has included the discovery that a burial spot just happened to be available at Janesville Cemetery near the final resting places of his parents,Rowe and Bessie Poulter.

"We all thought that was awesome. He not only will be back home, he will be right next to his parents," Graves said.

Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861.



  • Local-history
  • World War Ii
  • Coles County
  • Military
  • War
  • Cemetery
  • Memorial Day
  • Missing In Action
  • Warfare
  • Conflicts
  • Burial
  • Cultural Aspects Of Death

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Remains of Charleston World War II soldier identified, burial set in Coles County (2024)
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