After 58 years, mortal remains of decorated US army officer who died in India returned home
Pickett, who had fought in both the world wars, passed away in the hill station of Darjeeling in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal in March 1965, when he was on a world tour.
US ambassador of India Eric Garcetti pays final tributes to Major General Harry Kleinbeck Prickett whose mortal remains were returned to his family from Darjeeling in India where he died in 1965. (Picture: Twitter screengrab/@USAmbIndia)
His family’s wait for 58 years finally came to an end this week when the mortal remains of major general Harry Kleinbeck Pickett, a decorated US army officer were returned to them, India Today reported. Pickett, who had fought in both the world wars, passed away in the hill station of Darjeeling in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal in March 1965, when he was on a world tour, due to a cardiac arrest. He was buried at a local cemetery.
The remains of the South Carolina-born officer, who died at the age of 77, will be re-buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in the US, the report added.
The armyman’s family and the government of the US made several attempts to get his remains back home and it finally happened after nearly six decades, thanks to close coordination between the authorities in India and the US.
US ambassador to India Eric Garcetti, who took charge earlier this month, thanked the Indian authorities for the coordination.
He said Pickett’s mortal remains could be returned to the US because dedicated partners in West Bengal and Darjeeling cooperated.
“Thank you for reuniting Major General Pickett with his loved ones, and for strengthening the bonds of friendship that bind Americans and Indians together,” India Today quoted the envoy as saying.
Melinda Pavek, the US consulate general in Kolkata, the capital of Bengal, was quoted as saying by India Today, “Helping reunite Major General Pickett with his beloved family in the United States, the country he defended in both World War I and II, is a privilege and honor for us. We are grateful to the Government of India and the state of West Bengal which made his return possible.”
Pickett, who was born in Ridgeway in South Carolina in 1888, was commissioned to the US Marine Corps in 1913. He became one of the few Americans who served in both great wars with distinction. While he was present at the time of capturing the German vessel SMS Cormoran in Guam in April 1917, he was also among the American soldiers who had fired on Japanese warplanes during the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
According to the India Today report, the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit of the US consulate general in Kolkata worked closely with S Ponnambalam, district magistrate of Darjeeling, and John Pinto International, for funeral services, to locate the late hero’s grave site in the hill station. Once it was located in the Singtom Cemetery, the Bengal government’s home and hills department worked to get approval for exhuming the mortal remains.