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Duquesne veterans tend to grave marker with no home

| Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 3:57 a.m.
Ryan Williams, Tom Travis, John Burke and Ron Loop from VFW Post 188 in Duquesne tend to the tombstone of Charles R. Deemer. The marker, which indicates Deemer was a Marine, was found in the streets of Duquesne two years ago but no one from the post knows who he was or where his actual grave is located. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
A grave marker belonging to WWII veteran Charles R. Deemer was recently installed in the war memorial at Duquesne VFW Post 188. No one from the post knows who Deemer was or where his grave is really located. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News

Most Americans know about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

In front of the Duquesne VFW Post 188 is the grave marker of an identified soldier, but the location of his tomb is unknown.

Charles R. Deemer was born on June 20, 1919, and died April 28, 1993. He was a Marine sergeant who served in World War II, according to his gravestone, but little else is known about him, at least to the marker's current keepers.

Deemer's gravestone was found by a Duquesne public works employee about two years ago in the area of Viola Avenue and Fourth Street. The employee, Jim Scheitzer, didn't know what to do with the rectangular ground-level stone, so he took it to the local VFW post for safe keeping.

VFW members said they tried to find family of the deceased Marine so that the marker could be returned to its rightful place, but have had no success.

An obituary of another man with the same name who hailed from Bolivar was found online by the VFW but that individual was born in 1942 and died in 2005.

Post members say the marker is not missing from any local graveyards and even local clergy were unable to find anyone with ties to Deemer.

“I'd just like to find out where it belongs,” post commander Tom Travis said. “We hope to one day return it to where it belongs.”

On Veteran's Day, the VFW placed the marker in front of the post along N. Second Street. It seems a fitting place, in the midst of the post's war memorial.

“In essence, right now, we've adopted him,” post manager John Burke said.

Post service commander Ron Loop recalled the placement ceremony was an honorific event. Taps was played on Deemer's behalf.

Post members are proud to be keepers of the stone — there is talk about having a party on Deemer's birthday and kitchen manager Maggie Chiponis said the post plans to decorate the marker with a wreath for Christmas — but post members stress they would most like to see the marker returned to its proper location.

If the marker is claimed, they say its relocation will be marked with a full ceremony.

Anyone with information about Deemer or the marker is asked to contact the VFW at 412-466-9897.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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