Born in Salem, New Jersey, in 1858, Colonel Charles C. Pierce served as a U.S. Army Chaplain on the western frontier throughout the 1880s and 90s. Included among his traditional duties was care of the dead. During the Spanish American War (1899-1903) he headed the Office of Identification and U.S. Army Morgue in Manila, where he perfected new techniques for identifying the war dead, maintaining accurate records and transferring embalmed remains stateside for proper burial.
Colonel Pierce retired from active duty in 1908, but was recalled to service at the outset of World War I. On 27 September 1917, he was named Chief of the newly created Quartermaster Graves Registration Service. Weeks later he deployed to France with the first fully trained graves registration units — and was ultimately awarded a Distinguished Service Medal, along with maximum praise from General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.
Colonel Pierce, who died on 16 May 1921 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, is credited with being the founder of the Army’s first modern mortuary affairs system. And is looked upon still as the “Father of Mortuary Affairs.”
Charles Campbell Pierce of New Jersey
Appointed from Illinois, Chaplain, 9th United States Cavalry, 12 December 1882
Resigned 30 June 1884
Post Chaplain, 12 May 1888
Assigned to 11th United States Cavalry 25 February 1901
Transferred to 2nd United States Cavalry 20 November 1901
COLONEL C. C. PIERCE DIES IN TOURS HOSPITAL
Head of American War Memorials Commission Follows His Wife in Death
TOURS, France, May 16, 1921 – Lieutenant Colonel Charles C. Pierce, head of the American War Memorials Commission, died of pneumonia, brought on by the influenza, at 10 o'clock this morning in a hospital here.
Colonel Pierce, accompanied by his daughter, Mrs. Dewitt C. Jones, was compelled to stop off in this city recently, on the way to Italy to inspect the graves of American soldiers, in a state of collapse through grief over the death of his wife, who died in the American Hospital at Neuilly some time ago.
Funeral services for Colonel Pierce will be held in Paris on Wednesday. Mrs. Jones intends to return to the United States with the bodies of her mother and father. Colonel Pierce arrived in France in March from New York.
PIERCE, CHARLES C
LT COL USA
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: Unknown
DATE OF DEATH: 05/16/1921
DATE OF INTERMENT: Unknown
BURIED AT: SECTION S SITE 7
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
PIERCE, ETHEL M D/O CHARLES C
DATE OF DEATH: 12/07/1886
BURIED AT: SECTION E OFF SITE 7 FT MYER
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard