Wrong remains delivered for soldier's funeral

May 29, 2009 4:43:14 AM PDT
A funeral procession for a soldier killed in Germany during World War II abruptly ended at a Kansas City, Kan., cemetery when military officers realized they had the remains of the wrong soldier. Patriot Guard motorcycle riders, Fort Leavenworth soldiers and local police held a grand procession Wednesday to escort home what they though were the remains of Army Pvt. Henry E. "Rickey" Marquez.

Marquez was killed in November 1944, but his body remained missing until a German citizen searching for war relics found his remains and identification tags two years ago.

His brother, John Marquez, said that when the procession reached the cemetery, military officials realized his brother's remains were still in Hawaii. The remains in Kansas City belonged to another soldier.

Fort Leavenworth spokesman George Marcec told The Associated Press on Thursday that it's unclear whose remains were taken from the airport the previous day. He said that body apparently was on its way to Iowa and that Kansas City was just a stopover.

In a news release Thursday, military officials said only that "casualty assistance personnel from Fort Leavenworth incorrectly received and escorted a set of remains that had arrived at Kansas City International Airport."

Marquez's remains arrived in Kansas City on Thursday morning. The fort's garrison commander "expressed deep regrets to the Marquez family for any grief" the mix-up caused.

Base officials are investigating the "communication gaps" that caused the military to accept the wrong remains, according to the news release.

His remains were scheduled to be buried Saturday morning with full military honors.

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