SKOWHEGAN – Army Pfc. George A. Savage Sr. of Skowhegan was killed in action in November 1944 at age 29 in western Germany and buried in Belgium.
Four years later, Savage’s remains were exhumed and shipped back home to Maine for burial. He was interred with full military honors on April 18, 1948, in North Cemetery in Skowhegan, according to his son, George A. Savage Jr. of Sidney.
It was intended to be the soldier’s final resting place.
But now that grave, along with that of Savage’s grandfather, Roy E. Savage, who lost a leg while serving with the U.S. cavalry in the Spanish-American War, are threatened by erosion.
Five burial sites belonging to the Savage family are within about eight feet of the erosion, which will get worse if not dealt with quickly, town officials said earlier this month. Erosion at North Cemetery, off Madison Avenue, has caused the collapse of a wide portion of an earthen retaining wall and threatens to expose several graves.
“The first thing we thought is, ‘What’s going to happen to him? Where are they going to put him?”‘ Savage said.
Savage, 75, said he and his wife, Theresa, considered moving his father’s remains to a veterans cemetery after they heard the news of the collapse of the cemetery embankment in Skowhegan.
The younger Savage, a Navy veteran, said town officials have assured him that it will not be necessary to move the remains.
Skowhegan Code Enforcement Officer Randall Gray, who alerted selectmen to the erosion problem April 9, said an engineering firm has been hired and the problem will be fixed.
Acorn Engineering of Portland is designing a solution to the collapsed embankment, which should be ready in the coming days, Gray said. A contractor then will be hired to do the necessary repairs, he said.
“It’s the town’s intention to leave them right where they are and make everything safe for them so they don’t have to be relocated again,” Gray said.
Town officials don’t want the graves disturbed because the “Savage family, they are all veterans,” Gray said Thursday. “They shouldn’t worry at all.”
The remains of George A. Savage Sr. were among those of more than 2,000 U.S. servicemen who were killed and buried in Europe during World War II and returned to the United State 65 years ago this month. The casket was met in Waterville, escorted to the Peters-Shortier American Legion Post in Skowhegan and taken to the Lord Funeral Home in Skowhegan. Burial was overseen by members of Sanford’s American Legion post, also in Skowhegan.
An American flag that was draped over the soldier’s casket and presented that day to George Savage Jr.’s grandfather, Roy Savage, is on display along with collected photographs, war medals and other family memorabilia in the Savage home in Sidney. Among George Savage Sr.’s medals is a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts, which are awarded for wounds suffered in combat. He also earned three campaign stars and a combat infantry badge.
Savage was wounded in Normandy, Tunisia and Italy, according to newspaper clippings the Savages have saved.
George A. Savage Jr. was in the Navy in the 1950s. His son, George Anthony Savage, was in the Air Force for eight years and his grandson Ryan is now in the Air Force.
Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at: