The Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial in France, 48.6 acres in extent, is sited on a plateau 100 feet above the Moselle River in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. It contains the graves of 5,255 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the campaigns across northeastern France to the Rhine River and beyond into Germany. The cemetery was established in October 1944 by the 46th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company of the U.S. Seventh Army as it drove northward from southern France through the Rhone Valley into Germany. The cemetery became the repository for the fatalities in the bitter fighting through the Heasbourg Gap during the winter of 1944-45.
The memorial, a rectangular structure with two large bas-relief panels, consists of a chapel, portico, and map room with a mosaic operations map. On the walls of the Court of Honor, which surround the memorial, are inscribed the names of 424 of the missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. Stretching northward is a wide, tree-lined mall that separates the two large burial plots. At the northern end of the mall, the circular flagpole plaza forms an overlook affording a view of a wide sweep of the Moselle Valley.
On May 12, 1958, 13 caskets draped with American flags were placed side by side at the memorial. Each casket contained the remains of one World War II unknown American, each from one of the thirteen permanent American military cemeteries in the European theater of operations. In a solemn ceremony, Gen. Edward J. O'Neill, commanding general of the U.S. Army Communication Zone, Europe, selected the unknown to represent the European theater. It was flown to Naples, Italy and placed with unknowns from the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters of Operation aboard the USS Blandy for transportation to Washington, D.C. for final selection of the unknown from World War II. On Memorial Day, 1958 the remains were buried alongside the unknown from World War I at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.