Civil War Vet Honored This Week

(Updated since I ran across this video)

Medal of Honor Winner Charles Bieger

The Post Dispatch had this wonderful story on the front page this morning…


Bieger, who died at 86, was buried on Aug. 13, 1930, alongside his wife and three of their children in Mount Hope Cemetery, at Lemay Ferry and Telegraph roads in south St. Louis County. Their single stone of gray granite, shaded by a mature maple, is marked by only one word: “Bieger.”

Fresh spadework has changed the setting with a new flat stone above Bieger’s grave. Its engraving is simple and stirring: “Charles Bieger, Medal of Honor, Pvt, Co D 4 Mo Cavalry, Civil War.”

Descendants and history enthusiasts, 12 of them in Union soldier blue, are to meet there at 1 p.m. Friday for a ceremony to celebrate the completed graveside record. Charles M. Bieger of St. Charles County will bring the medal his great-grandfather received for rescuing his surrounded captain from capture 141 years ago.

“Frankly, I’m amazed by this,” said Charles M. Bieger, who was 2 years old when his great-grandfather died. “I heard the stories long ago, but the medals have been in a drawer all these years. I thought I was the last of the Biegers. I had no idea how many relatives I have.”

Also planning to attend is Russell E. Dunham of Jerseyville, the only living Medal of Honor recipient in the St. Louis area. Dunham, 85, earned his for single-handedly taking out three German machine-gun nests in France on Jan. 8, 1945.

Similar reunions are occurring across the country. A loose alliance of volunteer sleuths is checking out far-flung cemeteries for graves of Medal of Honor recipients that have no mention of the award. When they find one, they check with cemetery owners and any descendants they can find, then file a request with the Department of Veterans Affairs for a headstone.

“We get at least one such order each week,” said Mike Nacincik, a spokesman for the VA’s National Cemetery Administration.

The man who put in the request for Bieger is Don Morfe, a retired Blue Cross executive from Baltimore, Md., and a nomad for the Medal of Honor Historical Society. The group wants to ensure that visitors to the graves of the 3,460 recipients will know of their valor.

The medal is the nation’s highest award for bravery in combat.

“It’s a simple matter of respect for the medal,” said Morfe, who served in the Army in the mid-1950s. “I put in 45,000 miles a year. I love history and I don’t golf.”

The Medal of Honor Historical Society has been busy honoring veterans across the country. You can read more of their work honoring veterans here, here, and here.

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