The Repatriation program

This section of the website will provide you with a glimps of the Repatriation Program after World War II, carried out by the United States of America.

In 1946 legislation passed Congress providing for the final burial of the American World War II soldiers who were killed. The task of carrying out this massive programm was givin to the Office of the Quartermaster General.

"Henri-Chapelle cemetery in July 1945."

The next of kin of a fallen soldier were givin these four options by the War department:

     1. The remains may be interred or reinterred in a permanent American military cemetery overseas. The establishment of permanent overseas cemeteries is contemplated, should the number of requests justify their establishment;

     2. The remains may be returned to the United States for final interment in a National Cemetery. Burial of remains on a National Cemetery is restricted to members of the armed forces only. When this option is desired, the remains will be transported to the Continental United States and interred in the National Cemetery selected by the next of kin;

     3. The remains may be returned to the United States or any possession or territory thereof, for internment in a private cemetery. Shipment will be made to the city or town designated by the next of kin;

     4. The remains may be reinterred in the country in which they now are interred or be returned to a foreign country the homeland of the deceased or the homeland of the next of kin, for internment by the next of kin in a private cemetery. Shipment to a foreign country is dependent upon the ability of the United States Government to obtain entry therein. If entry can be made therein, shipment will be made to the city or town designated by the next of kin."

"Carrying out The Repatriation Program."

According to War Department figures, the cost to the governmentof returning remains of one member of the armed forces, including cost of casket and case, was estimated to be $ 657,00.

It was from the temporary cemetery at Henri-Chapelle that the first shipment of remains of American War Dead were returned to the U.S. for permanent burial. The repatriation program began on July 27, 1947 at a special ceremony at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery when the disinterment began. The first shipment of 5.600 American Dead from Henri-Chapelle left Antwerp, Belgium the first week of October 1947. An impressive ceremony was held with over 30.000 reverent Belgium citizens attending and representatives of the Belgium government and senior Americans presiding.

At the end, about 56 percent requested the remains of their loved ones to be returned to the United States for reburial in a National Cemetery or a private cemetery.

A special note of credit needs to be givin to the men of the Grave Registration Units who did a more the remarkable job. These men worked under difficult circumstances and they deserve all the credit one can give ...