NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio — World War II Army Pvt. Emmet Schwartz has finally been laid to rest in his home of Northeast Ohio.
Schwartz was killed in battle in Europe almost 80 years ago, but his remains were just identified this year. As his community welcomes him back, his descendants are honoring a man they never knew.
"The way my mother told it, the artillery shell hit in the fox hole and disintegrated him," George Schwartz, a surviving nephew, said. "We were told that he was missing in action."
Schwartz was considered Missing until December 1951 when he was declared non-recoverable, an obituary on the Geib Funeral Home website read. That was seven years after he died while serving in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, at the age of just 24.
His unidentified remains were buried in a cemetery in France until the summer of this year. New technology would change everything.
"First, we couldn't believe it," George said. "They didn't know who was asking for DNA and that type of stuff, and they didn't to give it out because that hadn't been contacted by anybody that the remains could be his."
Schwartz was born and raised in the New Philadelphia area and inducted into the army in May of 1944. At the time of his death, he was survived by his parents, wife, and son. They've since passed away, leaving extended family as the only ones left to accept his remains.
George Schwartz is among them. 3News caught up with him on his way to the airport to receive his uncle's body, reveling in a moment he never thought would come.
"It's just unbelievable," he said. "We're just all excited. We're going to bring him home."
A procession escorted Schwartz's body from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport back to New Philadelphia Friday evening. A public memorial service was set to be held Sunday at the Tuscarawas County Courthouse, but wound up being moved to Emmanuel Lutheran Church before his casket lay in state inside the courthouse rotunda. His remains will be buried interred at Evergreen Burial Park on Monday.