ROGERSVILLE – U.S. Army Private First Class Lewis E. “Luke” Price, who was killed during WWII in Germany, is coming “home,” to Rogersville on Friday night, Dec. 7.
Spokesmen for the Tennessee Army National Guard and Christian-Sells Funeral Home of Rogersville, told the Review on Thursday evening, Dec. 6, that the remains of PFC Price are scheduled to arrive at Tri-Cities Airport about 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, aboard a Delta Airlines flight. Members of PFC Price's family are traveling to the airport to meet his remains, National Guard and funeral home spokesmen confirmed to the Review.
PFC Price is to be buried, with full military honors, beside his parents in Rogersville's Highland Cemetery at 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14.
PFC Price's niece, Carolyn Carroll, of Bean Station, said during a Tuesday, Nov. 20, interview that her uncle was married and had son named Ronnie when he died in 1944 in heavy fighting between German and American forces in a dense German forest. His widow subsequently remarried and both she and the couple's son have since passed away. Carolyn said.
As a result, Luke's closest Hawkins County relatives were nieces and nephews, according to Carolyn, who noted that her older brother, Leon, who lives in Morristown, is consider by the Department of Defense to be Lewis E. Price's closest living relative. She and Gene Price, of Rogersville, are next in line among his closest living relatives, according to the DoD.
During a Tuesday, Nov. 20, interview, Carolyn Carroll said Lewis E. “Luke” Price was her mother's brother and that she had known little about him other than that he had been declared dead by the Army during WWII.
Ironically, she said, she had spent 13 months in Germany during the late 1960s while her husband, Wade Carroll, was serving in the U.S. Army in southern Germany and had not known that her uncle's name was listed among the names of the American WWII dead and missing on a monument in the an American cemetery in the Netherlands.
“I might have passed by the monument,” she said, noting that her Uncle Luke's remains were identified “by accident” only recently. She explained that when the family of another unidentified soldier asked the Army to attempt to use DNA to identify that soldier, they inadvertently submitted an incorrect identification number for that soldier's remains. That number actually had been assigned to the remains of PFC Lewis E. Price, Carolyn said. And when the DNA test was done, the first family didn't find a match as a result. the Army then began a search to identify the remains that turned out to be those of Lewis E. “Luke” Price.
That search led, eventually to the surviving family members – Leon, Gene and Carolyn in Northeast Tennessee.
Carolyn said Leon got the ball rolling by signing the required Department of Defense paperwork and that he, Gene and she all submitted DNA samples. They subsequently learned that their DNA samples were a “perfect match” with the remains that were declared to be those of Lewis E. “Luke” Price.
During a subsequent meeting with military authorities, she said, the family agreed that their uncle's remains should be returned to his native Hawkins County for burial.
But the miracles didn't end there, Carolyn said, noting that she remembered that Lewis Price's mother and father had kept a burial plot – possibly for him – beside their graves in Highland Cemetery. After some research, it was confirmed that the plot beside the graves of his father and mother – Christopher Columbus “Clum” Price and Sallie Yount Price – was still available in Highland Cemetery. Lewis will be laid to rest beside his parents in his native soil as a result.
Carolyn Carroll noted that a graveside service for Lewis E. “Luke” Price is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 14 in Highland Cemetery. Christian-Sells Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.