U.S. Army Sgt. Bernard J. Sweeney — declared missing after a battle in Germany’s Hürtgen Forest in December 1944 — was laid to rest today in Calverton National Cemetery.
In a hero’s welcome, Sweeney’s remains were escorted in a horse-drawn caisson along an extensive funeral procession lined with service men and women, veterans, first responders and other Long Island residents. His path of tribute to the cemetery included giant American flag banners draped from fire trucks.
It was just two years ago that Sweeney’s remains were identified through detailed DNA and dental record analysis. The remains of the 22-year-old had been being buried in a Belgium cemetery since 1950.
“Sgt. Sweeney has no immediate family or next of kin,” read a South County Ambulance Facebook post. “The task of honoring and burying him became the responsibility of a grateful nation and community of first responders.”
Sweeney was from Waterbury, Connecticut. He enlisted in New York City, and was with Company I, 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division, which landed in Normandy in June 1944 just after D-Day, reported CT Insider in Connecticut.
Sweeney’s remains are buried near the gravesite of Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael P. Murphy of Medford. Murphy was a Navy Seal who sacrificed his own life so that he could save the lives of his team while taking heavy fire from the enemy in Afghanistan; his actions were later made famous by the film “Lone Survivor.”
Calverton was chosen for Sweeney’s burial because it is the closest national cemetery to where he enlisted.
Below are some photos from today’s ceremony.