Family fights to honor mom's final wish

February 7, 2012 8:45:54 AM PST
A local family says they were fighting for almost three years to fulfill one of their mother's final wishes.

The Williams family says their mother, Winifred Williams, told her children before she passed away that she wanted her grave to have a proper veteran memorial marker.

Since she served in the military, her family tried to get the memorial for her gravesite, but say they ran into many obstacles along the way.

"She was very proud to server her country, really proud," Williams' daughter Carla Hartlaub said. "She always wanted a military funeral, but she didn't ever get one and we thought that the least we could do was get her a plaque from the military."

Despite trying since her death in 2007, only flowers mark Williams' final resting place.

"We contacted both places where she was stationed at, which was Fort Dix in New Jersey and Fort Lee in Virginia and they said that all the military records were sent to Missouri, St. Louis, Missouri and the place had burned down so we were at a dead end," Hartlaub said.

She says officials told her that her mother's records were lost in the 1973 fire at the St. Louis National Personnel Records Center.

Williams' family knew she entered the Army in 1950 and got out three years later.

They also had two records from her time in service, one that showed she completed the supply clerk course while stationed at Fort Dix and her marriage certificate that showed she got married to her husband, who was also in the Army, at a military chapel in Panama while in service.

However, despite those records, Hartlaub says they were not successful in getting the military marker.

"It seemed like every time we turned around we were hitting a brick wall, so we decided to call the Troubleshooter," she said. "She deserved it. She served her country and that was the right thing to do. I mean it's time for her country to give back to her."

I got in touch with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Williams' children got news that they've been waiting to hear since their mom passed.

"That we would be getting a plaque for her in about 4-6 weeks, thanks to you," Hartlaub said. "It brings a lot of closure, not only for us, but for her. We feel like she can finally rest at peace. "

When the marker comes in, Williams' family says they are planning to have a memorial service at her gravesite.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said once they got the information they needed, they were able to order the marker for Williams.

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