- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

TIPTON, Ind. (AP) - More than a year ago, Phil Zook of Bloomington came in possession of an American Legion grave marker. It was clear to Zook that it had been removed from a grave.

The marker had an engraved name on the back of a World War I veteran. It was also obvious that it came from a specific grave. The name on the marker was Thomas Earl Goings and his date of death was July 20, 1920.

Zook was able to do some research and tracked down a Thomas Earl Goings that had died on that day and was buried at Tipton Fairview Cemetery.

Zook contacted Ron Weeks, grounds keeper for the cemetery, and at first Weeks was unable to find any record on a Thomas Earl Goings being buried at Fairview. Weeks continued to research the situation and initially did find a record of Goings’ burial.

After this additional research with Weeks, Zook and his Vietnam buddy, Marion Siara, met with Weeks at Tipton’s Fairview Cemetery and they located the grave.

“I promised Ron I would have the marker repaired and returned to the grave site before Veterans’ Day,” Zook told The Tipton County Tribune (https://bit.ly/1to1BQ4 ).

Zook was able to get the marker repaired and made the trip to Tipton again to have the marker properly placed on the grave site where it belonged.

“I do not want any credit for doing this,” Zook said. “I am a veteran and believe that it was the only thing to do.”

Zook did share the research he found on Thomas Earl Goings.

Goings was a private who died on July 20, 1920. He was born in Indiana on Feb. 1, 1887 to John E. and Nancy E. Goings.

He appears on the 1900 Federal Census, with parents at Sugar Creek Township in Clinton County. On Nov. 23, 1908, he married Maggie Fisher in Marion.

He served with the 84th Infantry Division in Headquarters & Distribution Company 336th Infantry which arrived in France in September 1918. A 1920 Federal Census has Goings living alone in Harrison Township in Bartholomew County in Indiana.

It is thought that Goings’ parents may have moved to Tipton and that was why he was brought to Fairview to be buried. His parents are also buried at Fairview and they all share the same stone.

At the time of his death, the American Legion had only existed for 18 months. The National Headquarters of the American Legion could not provide any information about when he joined.

“Thanks for helping me honor this long overlooked WWI veteran,” Zook said.

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