ARLINGTON, Texas -- For more than a half century, a simple headstone beneath a towering shade tree in the Parkdale Cemetery has held a place for George Anderson Coke, Jr.
An Arlington High School graduate and eager Navy enlistee, Coke was killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. But while other boys were coming home in flag-draped caskets, Coke’s family knew only that he was buried in a mass grave in Hawaii alongside other crewmen of the USS Oklahoma whose remains had not been identified.
Now, 76 years later, Coke is coming home.
The Arlington Historical Society, family members, and the First United Methodist Church have arranged a public memorial service with full military honors for Coke on Saturday.
He will be laid to rest next to his father, George A. “Dutch” Coke Sr., who preceded him in death, and his mother, Julina Jane Tomlin Coke, who relatives believe is the person who bought and placed her son’s headstone there. She then went to her own grave next to it in 1960, heartbroken, they said.
“It’s a wonderful reminder of how horrible war is,” Geraldine Mills, executive director of the historical society, said of the memorial service. But she added, “It just gives you goose bumps that after all this time, he will be back in the hometown he loved and the people he loved. I think it is a fitting conclusion.”
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