Private Eugene Appleby receives hero’s welcome

| June 20, 2017

181COSHOCTON – The remains of Pvt. Eugene “Gene” Appleby arrived in Coshocton County Tuesday afternoon to a hero’s welcome. The motorcade escorting his remains entered the county line at approximately 4 p.m. and was greeted on Main Street with people waving American flags and with signs that said “Welcome Home”.

The processional began in Columbus and with the help of the state highway patrol, every intersection was blocked to let the motorcade proceed without interruption.

As the motorcade made its way into Miller Funeral Home’s parking lot, people gathered around the hearse and watched as Appleby’s remains were transported into the funeral home with full military rights. Only the sound of birds and distant traffic could be heard as Appleby’s remains exited the hearse and people stood in awe, some trying to hold back tears, as his body made its way into the funeral home.

“Thank you all so much for coming to honor this man,” said Matt Miller, owner of Miller Funeral Home.

Appleby’s nephew, Gene Simonds, was among those escorted in the processional. He flew to Coshocton from his home in Florida to see his uncle laid to rest. He was overwhelmed by the response he has received since the announcement was made just last week that his uncle’s remains had been found, and he was overcome with emotion when he saw the hero’s welcome his uncle received from Columbus to Coshocton.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my whole life,” he said. “I can’t say that I’m overwhelmed. It’s so much more. On every overpass, people were saluting and holding the flag. I can say that my heart is about as full as it can be. I’ve waited for this day since I was three or four years old. He’s one of my heroes. I’m so glad he’s finally home.”

Simonds said that he recently discovered that his Uncle Gene had lived in Coshocton when he was little. He will be buried in South Lawn Cemetery alongside his mother and young sister.

Simonds plans to spend the next couple of days in Coshocton exploring everything the community has to offer.

“I just can’t get over the people,” said Simonds. “I can’t believe the goodness and the love of the people who live here. It makes me want to move here.”

Not only did Simonds come to Coshocton for his uncle’s burial, but his grandchildren came as well.

“I’m concerned about the young people today,” he said. “They don’t know about these things, so I wanted my grandchildren to be here to experience this and know why we live here today.”

Even an emergency surgery couldn’t keep Matt Miller away from welcoming this WWII MIA, now KIA, veteran home.

“I’d see him up at like 1 a.m. looking for everything about the mission Gene was on,” said Matt’s daughter, Madison. “He wanted to learn everything about it. He wanted to make sure he could give this man the biggest honor he could.”

Matt was overcome with emotion during the processional, especially seeing the community of Coshocton come out to give Appleby a hero’s welcome and farewell.

“I was just blown away by the support in this community,” he said. “Coshocton is a very traditional patriotic community, and standing here today, wow, what a testimony.”

Appleby served in the United States Army, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. On Sept. 17, 1944, Appleby took part in Operation Market Garden, Drop Zone T north of Groesbeek, The Netherlands. After a successful jump and landing, his squadron took on enemy fire and Appleby was killed in action and had remained missing in action.

On Sept. 8, 2011 the Royal Netherlands Army Recovery and Identification Unit “RIU” was notified of possible human remains found on a farm by local residents. The remains were then transferred to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, now DPAA, for identification. Through DNA, site investigation and information from his fellow soldiers, the remains were successfully identified to be Pvt. Eugene J. “Gene” Appleby.

Appleby’s remains will be laid to rest on Thursday with a funeral service at Miller Funeral Home at 11 a.m. followed by burial at South Lawn Cemetery.

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About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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