He got in touch with a local French historian, Gilles Lagin, who had studied the war for 40 years and had been an adviser in the making of "The Lost Battalion" movie. Upon their arrival in Chéry-Chartreuve, they met the mayor and a local historian, Laurent Vermot-Desroches.
"I realized that this visit was symbiotic," Godfrey writes in his manuscript on "Finding Corporal Goodman." "We were bringing attention to Chery Chartreuve and Madame Mayor and Laurent were in turn honoring the memory of perhaps the only American soldier killed in their community."
They found the likely site of where the headquarters had been that day so long ago. "This is where it happened. Either here or there," said the French guide Lagin. In the nearby gravel, he bent over and retrieved a couple of bullets from World War I.
They went on to find the field hospital, now a private residence.
"I had thought the hospital was gone and that there would be a forest," Godfrey writes. "But there it was, a handsome two-story structure, an honest-to-goodness château, at least in my mind. But you could barely see it from the road, as it was fronted by a thick hedge. I had come this far: I squeezed through the hedge, up to the fence and got my picture. This is where Henry had died.
"My cousin Ellen, Gilles and I studied the blueprints, and looked across the field. We concluded that Henry had been buried at the far end, near the willow trees. There was no way of marking it off, of really knowing where."
It had taken months of work over the course of years and not an insignificant amount of cash, counting the trip to France. Why has Godfrey been so consumed with the search for details on his great-uncle's life and death in the face of what he jokingly calls his family's "eye-rolling"?
Because he surely wants to learn more about his uncle's life. One great find was discovering his uncle's 1911 graduation photo from National University Law School in the basement of George Washington Law School, the first time he ever laid eyes upon his relative's face.
And then there is the prospect of returning to France in 2018 to place a memorial to his uncle in Chéry-Chartreuve on the centennial of his death.
Godfrey pondered the question.
"I started to feel like the family had really forgotten him, and maybe my generation was the last one that could really help preserve his memory and know what happened to him," he said. "Ultimately, maybe it reflects on our own question: Who remembers us when we're gone?"
From the time he was finally buried in New York in 1921 until they found his grave in 2009, there was nobody to visit Corporal Goodman's grave," Godfrey said. "Hopefully, he'll be remembered now."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.