GUWAHATI The mortal remains of Major General Harry Kleinbeck Pickett, one of America’s most decorated officers who fought in both World War I and World War II, are being returned home to the United States from West Bengal’s Darjeeling.
He would be reburied at the Arlington National Cemetery, an official statement said.
Major General Pickett died in 1965 while visiting Darjeeling and was buried in the hill town. His family and the U.S. government have closely coordinated with Indian officials for the return of his remains to the United States.
“Our first priority as U.S. government public servants is protecting and supporting American citizens.
Helping reunite Major General Pickett with his family in the U.S. is a privilege and honour for us,” Melinda Pavek, U.S. Consul General in Kolkata said.
“We are grateful for the support from the government of India and the State of West Bengal which made his return possible,” she said.
Major General Pickett was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps in 1913, going on to become one of the few Americans who served with distinction in both world wars.
During World War I, he participated in the capture of the German cruiser SMS Cormoran in Guam in April 1917. As the commanding officer of the Marine Barracks at Pearl Harbour, he and his fellow Marines fired on Japanese warplanes during the surprise attack on December 7, 1941.
The American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit of the U.S. Consulate General Kolkata worked closely with S. Ponnambalam, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, and John Pinto International funeral services to locate Pickett’s grave site in Darjeeling.
Approval from the West Bengal government for the exhumation was sought after his grave was located in the Singtom Cemetery. The approval was granted by West Bengal officer B.P. Gopalika for sending Major General Pickett’s remains to the US.
Apart from the State government officers, the U.S. government thanked Rev. Fr. Patrick Pradhan of the Darjeeling cemetery and Father Paul D’Souza, who helped in the exhumation process.