MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - An Eight Mile man may be close to uniting a mysterious headstone with a World War II veteran's gravesite, but there may be a new obstacle for him to overcome.
One of the phone calls in response to FOX10's story on Tuesday came from someone who said he's related to the James Bryant, a World War II veteran who died in 1953.
James Bryan was 11 years old when he attended his uncle's funeral. The 28-year-old had been killed in a car wreck.
"Mother told me he was on leave from the Navy during the time he was killed," Bryan said.
Bryan said James Earl Bryant's name is spelled differently in the obituary, which names some of his other relatives too, including his grandfather, and other uncles and aunts.
Richard Jolly, who has been trying to find the location of the grave the headstone belongs with , got to meet Bryan Wednesday.
Jolly said a neighbor asked his father to let him store a wooden crate on his property. It wasn't until years later that they discovered the crate contained the headstone. By then, no one knew where the grave was located.
"Shortly before he died, he said, 'Come here, son.' And he took my hand and he said, 'I want you to find out where that head stone goes.' He said, 'Finish the job for me,' and I promised him that I would," Jolly said.
According to Bryan, his uncle was buried in Indian Springs Cemetery, near a fir tree along with some other siblings: a sister, a brother and a family friend's infant. Bryan said none of the graves were marked.
Bryan also thinks he knows why the headstone was not placed.
"The only reason I could come up with was either a dispute over that 'T' on that name, or something else, and I believe in my heart it was the 'T', he said.
Bryan, who's done extensive research on his family history, said the disputed "T" goes back to 1700's when his ancestors' name was sometimes misspelled with the extra consonant.
"As a veteran, he should be honored at least with a name," Bryan said.
Bryan and Jolly both hope the disputed spelling issue can be resolved and the exact grave site can be found. If it is, Bryan said he will be able to get markers for the other family members alongside Bryant's grave.
Jolly said the American Legion in Eight Mile has said they will make sure the headstone is moved once the grave is found, and another caller is trying to get the Patriot Guard Riders to escort the headstone once it's moved.
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