After being killed in a bloody, WWII battle in Süggerath, Germany that took the lives of 2,000 others, the 66 year-old skeletal remains of 23 year-old Private First Class Edward L. O’Toole have finally been buried in San Francisco, CA.
After two years in combat with the military, O’Toole was killed; this much the army knew. His remains, however, were nowhere to be found. The military sent his family O’Toole’s purple heart - meaning that he died in action - along with a telegram declaring him missing. Unsure of how to react, O’Tooles family asked the army to prove a headstone for him at a cemetery.
After coming across the skeletal remains of O’Toole during a dig, the military was able to identify the body by both O’Toole’s dog tags (which were intact) and his dental records. They initially weren’t able to find any next of kin, however; O’Toole himself was single when he entered the army two years after graduating high school.
It wasn’t until the day before the funeral that 68 year-old Barry Berg, a distant cousin of O’Toole’s, saw an article in the newspaper about the cousin that his mother had only mentioned to him once when he was 16. He contacted the newspaper, and the next day at the funeral, he was the one who received the burial flag. Berg currently resides in the very house that O’Toole grew up in.
Over 300 people attended the service at Golden Gate National Cemetery, including veterans and civilians, according to the San Bruno Patch. This cemetery is different than the one his mother requested the army provide his headstone for back in the late 50’s, but it’s the one where his brother, Michael, is buried. O’Toole was buried alongside Michael, who was killed in 1951 while serving in the US Navy, in a small casket. O’Toole was buried with “full military honors.”