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Pick of the Day: Lost soldiers

I've been at work on a story about a lost soldier. Our amazing staff researcher, Meg Smith, who is helping me track down missing relatives and mysterious loose ends, suggested I read a story written a few years ago by our colleague Paul Duggan about another lost soldier.

Duggan, in rich detail, chronicles the tale of Pvt. Francis Lupo, of Cincinnati, who was killed probably on the first day his unit saw heavy combat in WWI, and went missing for a lifetime. For 88 years, Lupo's body lay buried and forgotten in a shallow shell crater in France.

On the third day, July 20, the doughboys of Lupo's battalion joined the battle. After passing the ruined village of Missy-aux-Bois, they were pushing east across hundreds of acres of low wheat, struggling to reach the bombed-out town of Ploisy.

He fell amid the acrid stench of manure and cordite. His skeletal remains are long past telling what killed him: a shell blast, a gust of machine-gun fire. The soldiers put him and the other man in a crater out there between the villages and kept moving.

Duggan writes that Lupo's mother, a Sicilian immigrant, never recovered. It is a gripping tale of an ordinary man and the extraordinary losses extracted in the crucible of war.

By Brigid Schulte  | March 4, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
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