Edward F. Younger
Sergeant, United States Army
Younger selected the World War I Unknown Soldier who was intered in Arlington
National Cemtery. He died of a heart attack in Chicago, Illinois, August
6, 1942. He was an employee of the Post Office there and was 44 years old.
Younger enlisted in the Army in February 1917 and took part, as an Infantry Sergeant, in major engagements, including Chatteau-Thierry, St. Mihiel, Somme Offensive and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. He was wounded twice and then re-enlisted in 1919 and was stationed with the 15th Infantry, Army of Occupation, Mayen, Germany, when Washington officials named him as one of six soldiers to go to France to select the Uknown Soldier. On November 24, 1921, he chose the body. Four coffins had ben sent to a chapel at Chalons-sur-Marne, one from each of the major cemeteries where U.S. war dead were buried. In his own words - as he told the story, he said, to civic and veterans groups an average of one a week from the time he was mustered out of the Army in 1922 - this is what happened:
"'At first it was an idea that we (the six soldiers) were to be just pallbearers, but when we lined up in the little makeshift chapel, Major Harbold, the officer in charge of grave registrations, told us, 'One of you men is to be given the honor of selecting the body of the Unknown Soldier.' He had a large bouquet of pink and white roses in his arms. He finally handed the roses to me. I was left alone in the chapel. There were four coffins, all unnamed and unmarked. The one that I placed the roses on what the one brought home and placed in the national shrine. I walked around the coffins three times, then suddenly I stopped. What caused me to stop, I don't know. It was as though something had pulled me. I placed the roses on the coffin in front of me. I can still remember the awed feeling that I had, standing there alone."
He is buried in Section 18 of Arlington National
CHICAGO, August 8, 1942 – Edward F. Younger, the Sergeant who selected the “Unknown Soldier,” will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, American Legion officials announced today.
The body will be sent to Washington Tuesday. National officers of the Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars will accompany the coffin to the cemetery.
Mr. Younger was one of six soldiers named as
pallbearers at a chapel in Chalons-sur-Marne, November 24, 1921. He was
handed flowers and told to place them on one of four caskets brought from
French cemeteries where American dead were buried. The coffin he
selected was shipped to Washington for burial in the national shrine.
WASHINGTON, August 12, 1942 – Far from battle scarred France, where they first came together twenty-one years ago, the Unknown Soldier and Sergeant Edward F. Younger were reunited today in the company of other honored American dead in Arlington National Cemetery.
While the country for whom he fought a quarter century ago was engaged in another struggle, Edward Younger was buried with military honors in a grave a half mile over rolling hills from the Tomb of the nameless American soldier.
Twenty-one years ago Younger, then a United States Army Sergeant, entered a darkened chapel in the French village of Chalong-Sur-Marne in which there lay four coffins containing the bodies of unidentified American dead. His orders were to lay on one of the coffins a red rose, thus selecting the dead hero whose body was to be enshrined for all time as a symbol of a fighting America.
Last Thursday the former Sergeant, 44, and a postal employee in Chicago, died of heart disease. Following funeral services in his home city, the body was brought to Washington for burial near the Unknown Soldier’s tomb.
At the gravesite Captain E. J. Gracey, Catholic Chaplain at Fort Myer, read the committal service, concluding with these words:
“And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”
An eight-man firing party, directed by one of Sergeant Younger’s buddies in the First World War, now Lieutenant Marty Ball, fired three volleys. A bugler sounded “Taps.”
At the grave stood scores of Sergeant Younger’s comrades of World War days, along with soldiers of the present war, co-workers in the postal service and nearly twenty relatives, including his widow, Agnes, and two children, James and Gloria. Four members from his American Legion Post, Van Buren Number 401, also attended.
From the day on which he selected the coffin in the French chapel, there remained in Sergeant Younger’s mind a feeling that the dead soldier he chose was someone had had known.
“I went into the church and walked past the caskets,” he once said. “I walked around them three times. Suddenly I stopped. It was a though something had pulled me. A voice seemed to say ‘This is a pal of yours.’
“I put the rose on the coffin in front of me and went back out into the sunlight. I still remember the awed feeling I had, standing there alone.”
A veteran of the Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel, Somme and Meuse-Argonne Offensives, Sergeant Younger was with the Army of Occupation in Germany when he was called to France to take part in the historic ceremony.
YOUNGER, AGNES ANNA W/O EDWARD F
DATE OF DEATH: 11/12/1943
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/17/1943
BURIED AT: SECTION WWW SITE 1918 A
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
WIFE OF EF YOUNGER - SGT CO A 9 INF
YOUNGER, EDWARD F
Updated: 4 November 2000 Page Updated: 12 May 2001 Updated: 9 December 2003 Updated: 18 September 2004 Updated: 13 November 2005 Updated: 25 December 2007