A story of sacrifice for freedom’s sake

A rosette is to be placed next to the name of a young man from Hughesville on the Tablets of the Missing in the Netherlands American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Margraten, Netherlands.

The rosette will signify that the young man is no longer missing.

Army Pvt. James I. Trick was 25 years old when he was killed by German shrapnel in the almost impenetrable Hurtgen Forest near Germeter, Germany, on Nov. 4, 1944.

The Germans labeled the forest “the Green Hell.” Some 30,000 soldiers died in the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest — journalists of the day wrote about it being a death factory. It was so densely wooded that little sunlight penetrated to the forest floor. It also has been described as “the worst place of any.”

Said one survivor of the battle, Army Lt. Leonard Lomell: “One way or another, they got you. You froze to death or you got sick or you got blown to bits.”

Pvt. Trick lost his life after being struck by enemy shrapnel while making a second trip to take ammunition forward for his unit’s heavy machine gun.

After the war, the American Graves Registration Command searched the forest for those who died in the months-long battle there. No remains found in the area were identified as Trick’s, and the Army declared him “non-recoverable.”

Up until recently, he was among 72,674 service members that still were unaccounted for from World War II. Of those, about 30,000 today are assessed as “possibly recoverable.”

Although he had been interred as an “unknown,” Trick’s grave was meticulously cared for by the commission for 70 years.

Now he is coming home to Hughesville, his body having been positively identified through forensic testing. Trick finally will be laid to rest at Pleasant Hill Cemetery on Sept. 28, nearly 75 years after his death.

It is a miracle of modern science that now his remains have been identified and he will be returned to his rightful home.

Welcome home, Pvt. James Trick, and thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom. May you finally rest in peace.

Now, to bring home the other 72,673 service members listed as missing in action from World War II.


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