Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 10, 2014

Veteran gets his gravestone

ROGERS CITY (AP) — In Rogers City’s Memorial Park cemetery, there’s a new gravestone marking the spot where a World War I veteran was buried nearly 86 years ago.

James Elmer Brenay served as a private in the U.S. Army during World War I, and died at 33 in 1928. That’s according to a white marble tombstone standing by itself in a burial lot, not too far from the Larke Avenue entrance to the cemetery, The Alpena News reported .

The day’s last light shone on the stone recently as a breeze ruffled the American flag in a war veteran marker. But if you’d visited that site in mid-May, that veteran marker would be the only thing you would’ve seen. That got Presque Isle Servicemen’s Club member Mike Peltz wondering.

“Every year we’ve been putting up a flag in this little flag holder, and that was the only thing in this whole lot there,” he said. “I got to thinking a few years ago, ‘why are we putting a flag there?’ There had to be a veteran there.”

So Peltz went to city hall and got a last name from the record of burial. From there, he got a death certificate from the county showing that Brenay had been born in Canada in 1895, served in the war and died in 1928 of pneumonia. Peltz has no idea how Brenay ended up in Rogers City, but he had worked as an electrician for Michigan Limestone.

There are few other clues about Brenay: He died young and Peltz said he wasn’t able to locate any family. He was able to find Brenay’s military record with the help of Ted Beck. From there, they got a serial number and a record of the veteran’s honorable discharge.

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