The Quartermaster-led Graves Registration Service positively identified over ninety percent -- all but 1,237 -- of the remains of U.S. servicemen who died in Europe during World War I. Likewise it was to the QM Corps that the nation looked to for proper entombment of the Unknown Soldier at war’s end.
In the fall of 1920, four casketed remains of U.S. unidentified soldiers were brought to the little French town of Chalon-sur-Marne. On October 24th, LTC R. P. Harbold, Chief of the Graves Registration Service, summoned one of the pallbearers -- SGT Edward F. Younger, a highly decorated Infantryman -- to select from among the four the Unknown Soldier.
"I went into the room and walked past the caskets," he later explained. "I walked around them three times. Suddenly I stopped. It was as though something had pulled me. A voice seemed to say: ‘This is a pal of yours.’" He made his selection by placing a single white rose on the coffin.
The remains were later transported to the French port of Le Havre, put onboard Admiral Dewey’s famous cruiser the USS Olympia, and sailed for home, arriving on November 9th. The body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda for two days as over 90,000 people quietly filed by. On 11 November 1921, this brave soldier, whose true identify will forever be a mystery, was formally interred on native soil.
Compiled by Dr. Steven Anders, former Quartermaster School historian
Event: Unknown U.S. Soldier selected (France)
Date: October - November 1921
"Here Rests in Honored Glory An American Soldier Known but to God."
- Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Arlington National Cemetery (Inscription facing the Amphitheater)