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On Dec. 28, a little over 54 years after he was killed at the Chosin
Reservoir, Army Master Sgt. Billy Donahoe was laid to rest beside his
parents at Lawndale Cemetery near Houston.

 

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Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)
May 29, 2005

MIA hope spans half a century
As remains arrive in the U.S., local families and others wonder if they could be loved ones.
By Tom Infield, Inquirer Staff Writer

After five weeks of digging on old battlefields, American military teams emerged from North Korea on Tuesday carrying the remains of U.S. servicemen lost 55 years ago in the Korean War.

Elizabeth Bodnar, of Yardley, is hoping that the body of her brother Norbert G. Hurt may be among the skeletal fragments recovered near the Chosin Reservoir, site of a disastrous 1950 battle in which Army units were overwhelmed by Chinese forces.

With 8,100 Americans still missing from Korea - four times the number from the Vietnam War - Bodnar knows the odds are long that Hurt, a 20-year-old corporal, will ever be found.

But she continues to burn a torch for him.

"My brother has always been in our hearts," she said. "These things are never over. You can never have closure."

In Vietnam, where the United States now has strong ties, the Defense Department has had considerable cooperation since 1988 in scouring the hills and deltas for lost personnel.

But in Korea, where three years of fighting ended in a 1953 cease-fire, American and North Korea troops remain in a dangerous face-off along the 38th Parallel. U.S. access to battlefields in the North has been limited and fitful.

Just Wednesday, after announcement that an unspecified number of human remains had been brought across the Demilitarized Zone, the United States said it was breaking off recovery efforts that have resulted in the discovery of about 220 bodies since 1996.

In apparent reference to North Korean belligerence over its nuclear program, the United States said the isolationist communist state was creating a hazardous atmosphere for its teams.

"I'm just hoping it's very temporary," Bodnar said of the suspension. The newly recovered bodies, in flag-draped coffins, were honored Thursday at a U.S. base in South Korea. They will be flown to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, where the detective work of identification will begin.

Hurt's parents were German immigrants. In the early 1940s, with America battling the Nazis in World War II, it was hard to be a boy from a German family. Hurt liked to be called by his middle name, George. His sister guesses it sounded less German to him than Norbert.

A tinted photograph of Hurt with his mother, Anna, taken with him in his Army uniform, shows a smooth-cheeked youth with stuck-out ears and an overbite.

Bodnar, the youngest of four siblings in a Langhorne home, said their father, Martin, had encouraged him to join the Army to "make more of himself."

With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, troops were rushed into combat to stem the North Korean advance into South Korea.

Hurt, a graduate of Northeast High in Philadelphia, arrived that fall as American and South Korean forces were retaking ground they had lost. He wrote from near Seoul in November: "I cannot enjoy my Thanksgiving dinner because of the terrible death of my buddies."

A few days later, Dec. 2, 1950, he would be listed as missing in action. American forces by then were on the march toward the Chinese border. Waves of Chinese troops suddenly fell on strung out columns of trucks and men in 40-below weather.

In Hurt's 32d Infantry Regiment, 309 soldiers are still listed as missing. Ed Campbell, 75, of Pitman, N.J., who was in the Chosin campaign, said: "There had to be sense of terror - because they were overwhelmed... . I don't care what kind of weapon you had; it was impossible."

Ohio State University professor Allan R. Millett, a Korean War expert, said Hurt "might very well have died in the earliest attack, in the hills overlooking the road that ran up the east side of the reservoir."

On May 8, 1953, the Army wrote to Hurt's parents that a soldier who had seen him in action was "of the opinion" he had been captured. But the Army could not verify that.

On Jan. 11, 1954, Army Secretary Robert T. Stevens wrote again saying that Hurt had been awarded a Purple Heart posthumously.

The Army by then considered him dead.

In three years of Korean fighting, 35,000 Americans were killed. U.S. forces carried away most bodies or recovered them after the war in a friendly South Korea. But the area north of the 38th Parallel, under postwar control of a still-hostile North Korea, was impenetrable.

This was in contrast to what happened after other wars of past decades. Though 78,000 servicemen are missing on land and sea from World War II, the United States won that war on all fronts and had access to battlefields everywhere.

Since the Vietnam War, from which 1,833 service personnel are still missing, the United States has been able to find and identify 741 bodies - 518 from Vietnam itself, 192 from Laos, 28 from Cambodia, and three from China.

Hundreds of other bodies have been recovered but not identified. One serviceman was missing after the Gulf War in 1991 - Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher, of Florida, shot down in an F-18. After the fall of Saddam Hussein in the current Iraq war, the United States set out to find him. But it hasn't.

"We have had wider access [in all these wars] than we do in North Korea," said Larry Greer, spokesman for the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office.

In 1954, China and North Korea returned the bodies of 2,944 Americans from battlefields and prison camps.

Almost a half-century later, in the early '90s, North Korea turned over an additional 208 boxes of remains.

The Clinton administration negotiated to give humanitarian aid to North Korea in exchange for what turned out to be a temporary halt in its nuclear ambitions.

As a fruit of these talks, the two nations began joint efforts in 1996 to find more bodies. These have been rife with tensions, but 37 recovery missions have been conducted to date. Only 25 of the 220 or so recovered bodies have been identified.

The mission that ended Wednesday was to have been the first of five this year, with the next to have begun almost immediately. But with the suspension, the next step is uncertain.

Greer said he hoped recovery will resume. "We've had suspensions before," he said.

A family in Texas knows the joy - and renewed sorrow - that can come with news that a long-lost soldier is coming home.

On Dec. 28, a little over 54 years after he was killed at the Chosin Reservoir, Army Master Sgt. Billy Donahoe was laid to rest beside his parents at Lawndale Cemetery near Houston.

His body was found in a common grave with 12 other soldiers in 2000. It had taken three years to identify him.

His great-nephew Terry Anderson, a police officer in Pasadena, Texas, was chosen by his family to travel to Hawaii to accompany the body home.

What remained of Donahoe was 205 bones, Anderson said recently. "The fact of finding him after more than 50 years is just phenomenal," he said.

Donahoe was 26 and unmarried when he died. About 20 relatives attended the funeral, the closest of whom were a niece and nephew.

Anderson's father, Harry, recalled that Donahoe's mother, Sudie, who died in 1966, never lost hope that he had survived the battle.

"Every time a Korean vet came home," he said, "she would write to him or call him and ask if he had seen her son Billy."

The mother had kept his pictures all over her house. After she died, the pictures went into a cedar chest.

Donahoe's memory, too, was put under a lid. But Harry Anderson, 62, a retired pipe fitter, said a half-century of emptiness was filled in an instant when the call came from Hawaii.

He had this advice for Elizabeth Bodnar and other relatives of MIAs: "Hang on, hang on, hang on," he said. "Keep hoping."


AP Alert - Hawaii
June 4, 2005

Flowers assumes command of MIA accounting command

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii_Brig. Gen. Michael C. Flowers assumed command of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Hickam Air Force Base on Friday.

Flowers last served in Kosovo where he was the chief of staff of the NATO force for the past year.

He said he would continue the work of his predecessor, Maj. Gen. W. Montague Winfield, to recover and identify remains from around the world.

About 88,000 troops are missing, including 78,000 from World War II. Thousands more are missing from the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.

Past missions have taken the command's teams as far as Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, and Russia.

"We're very sensitive to the needs of the families, to their wanting to come to closure, to know exactly what happened to their loved ones," Flowers said after the change of command ceremony. "We devote a lot of time to talking with the families, meeting with the families and informing the families of what our proposed future actions are."

Winfield will head the U.S. Army Cadet Command, the headquarters for ROTC programs, in Fort Monroe, Va.


AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE ENGLISH WIRE
June 2, 2005

North Korea declares permanent end to US MIA recovery work

SEOUL, June 2 (AFP) - North Korea has declared a permanent end to US recovery work of the remains of American soldiers killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War in response to a recent US decision to halt the
operation.

In a statement released at the border village of Panmunjom, North Korea's military, the Korean People's Army (KPA), said it "has decided to totally dismantle its side's investigation and recovery unit."

The Pentagon announced on May 25 it had suspended its recovery mission in the communist state, citing uncertainty about a standoff over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

"In consequence, the US remains buried in Korea can never be recovered but are bound to be reduced to earth with the flow of time ," a KPA spokesman said in the statement. "We do not care whether the US side stops the recovery operation as it pleases, though it is responsible for taking back the remains."

The statement was dated on Wednesday and released on North Korea's official KCNA news agency on Thursday.

The Pentagon said it was calling a temporary halt to the MIA search due to uncertainty over North Korea's refusal to attend nuclear talks and concerns about the protection of US military personnel on the recovery mission there.

The decision was announced on May 25 after a 27-member military team had left North Korea with a set of remains believed to be of US soldiers. North Korea has boycotted six-nation talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons program since the third round in June in Beijing last year. The talks group the United States, North Korea, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.

After declaring in February itself nuclear-armed, North Korea said last month it had unloaded 8,000 spent fuel rods from its reactor, a step that would allow it to reprocess weapons-grade plutonium for more nuclear bombs.

Since 1996, the US military has conducted 33 missions in North Korea to recover the remains of US soldiers missing in action despite the standoff

The recovery missions were once shut down from October 2002 to June 2003 after North Korea told a visiting US diplomat for the first time that it had nuclear weapons.

The US Pacific Command said in a statement that the latest suspension was temporary.


AP Alert - Defense
June 2, 2005

North Korea criticizes U.S. decision to suspend missions there to recover war dead
By BURT HERMAN

SEOUL, South Korea_North Korea's army on Thursday called the U.S. "foolish" for suspending missions there to recover remains of missing American war dead and said it would disband its own search unit, warning that the fates of thousands of soldiers might never be known.

"The rude action taken by the present U.S. administration has totally blocked the way of confirming the identification of more than 8,000 U.S. soldiers reported missing in action during the Korean War," said an unnamed spokesman from the North's Korean People's Army mission in the truce village of Panmunjom.

"In consequence, the U.S. remains buried in Korea can never be recovered but are bound to be reduced to earth with the flow of time," the spokesman said, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

Despite the latest nuclear standoff pitting Washington and its allies against North Korea, the recovery missions by U.S. soldiers to the North to track down remains of missing soldiers had continued as the only form of U.S.-North Korean military cooperation. Since starting in 1996, more than 200 remains have been recovered through the program.

But the U.S. Defense Department said last week it would suspend the missions out of fears for soldiers' safety while in the North, without identifying any specific threat.

The North said Thursday that U.S. soldiers had never been at risk while there. "Our side permitted more than 30 recovery operations and enabled members of the U.S. side to safely go back, taking recovered remains with them, without having even a single fingernail hurt, even against the background of the very tense relations between (North Korea) and the U.S.," the army spokesman said.

Pulling the plug on the program proves that the humanitarian issue is connected to politics, the North alleged. Pyongyang also repeated its regular dire warnings that Washington is preparing to launch a pre-emptive attack against it, citing among other reasons the recent deployment of U.S. F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters to South Korea on a regular training mission.

"The U.S. side's use of even the humanitarian work, which had been under way as requested by itself, for a sinister political and military purpose once again fully revealed what a foolish ruling group the present U.S. administration is," the North said.

The United States _ along with China, Japan, Russia and South Korea _ is seeking to convince the North to return to nuclear disarmament talks that the communist regime has boycotted for nearly a year, citing a "hostile" U.S. policy against it.


AP Alert - Arkansas
June 1, 2005

Arkansas pilot missing since Korean War buried in Texas
By JAMIE STENGLE

DALLAS_With jets from his old squadron streaking through the clouds overhead in a "missing man" formation, Air Force Capt. Troy "Gordie" Cope was finally laid to rest Tuesday, more than 50 years after his jet crashed during a dogfight in the Korean War.

"He is certainly gone, but he is not forgotten," said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, who joined family, friends, veterans and representatives of the city's Korean population for Cope's burial at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

For decades after his jet was shot down, Cope's fate was a mystery. But by the late 1990s, clues emerged that led to the excavation of his crash site in Chinese territory and the recovery of his remains.
In February, the Pentagon announced it had identified the remains of Cope, whose case put a spotlight on a Russian role in the 1950-53 Korean War that was kept quiet for decades.

Cope was flying what was then the Air Force's best fighter, the F-86 Sabre, on Sept. 16, 1952, when he encountered MiG-15 fighters _ purportedly North Korean but flown by Russians _ over the Yalu River that separates North Korea from China.

"I'm so glad he's back, I really am," said Korean War veteran Ray Duncan, 71, of Richardson. Duncan served at the same base in Korea as Cope. Even though he didn't specifically remember Cope, he wanted to come to the ceremony. "The more I thought about it, it really started tugging on my heart," Duncan said.

Before the burial, about 90 people attended a memorial service where Cope's flag-draped coffin was flanked by two pictures of a young Cope in uniform.

"It overwhelmed me to see what has been done here today," said Carl Cope, his 83-year-old brother. After his plane went missing, Cope's family was only told that he was missing in action, said Cope's nephew, Chris G. Cope, 50, of Plano "Everybody was left in the dark," Chris Cope said. "There was always hope. He was one of four brothers _ all in the Air Force. They took it real hard. "The worst part of an MIA case is the not knowing."

Cope joined the Air Force out of high school, flying during World War II in the Aleutian Islands. He then attended the University of Arkansas and became a physical education teacher. But, as a member of the reserves, he was called up and sent to the Korean War, Chris Cope said.

In 1995, a U.S. businessman spotted Cope's name on a dog tag on display in a military museum in the Yalu River city of Dandong, China. During a search by Pentagon analysts of Russia's Podolsk military archives in 1999, documents describing Cope's shootdown were discovered. They included statements and drawings by Russian pilots who had flown the MiG-15s for the North Koreans.

The documents contained detailed reports on a search of the crash site by Russian and Chinese officials, giving the Pentagon enough detail to ask the Chinese government for permission to send a team of U.S. specialists to investigate. U.S. officials found aircraft debris and human remains there in May 2004.

Danz Blasser of the Defense Prisoners of War/Missing Personnel Office said he'd been working on Cope's case since the early 1990s. "In a sense, it's closure for me too," said Blasser, who spoke at the memorial about the search for Cope.

Cope, who was 28 when he was shot down, left behind a wife and three young sons. His oldest, 57-year-old Johnny E. Cope of Sevierville, Tenn., said he grew up with pride in his father, but didn't remember or know much about him. "We were so young we didn't know what was going on," he said. Deciding that they would never know what had happened to their "farmboy" from Norfork, Ark., family members held a memorial service there in 1988, Chris Cope said.

After that service, Johnny Cope said he'd pretty much put his father's death behind him. "For me _ that was it. It was over. We had the flag and that was it."

But Tuesday's service provided something the earlier one did not: a homecoming. The Dallas area was picked for burial because it's near the home of one of Cope's brothers. "The service we'd had was without him," Johnny Cope said. "This time we'll have him. He's home where he belongs."


Columbia State (SC)
May 30, 2005

'Always my hero'
After years of worry and uncertainty, Pete Frederick's family finds peace on Memorial Day
By JOHN O'CONNOR, Staff Writer

When your brother has been missing in Vietnam for nearly four decades, hard truth fights desperate hope in your heart and mind.

Chapin resident Joe Frederick and his mother cooked up fantastic stories after his fighter pilot brother went missing in Vietnam in 1967. Maybe he had been taken to Russia or he was on a secret mission. Or worse: Maybe he still was being tortured by Vietnamese captors. Last year, Frederick learned the truth: Col. Pete Frederick died on impact when his F-105D Thunderchief was shot down. His remains were recovered and buried at a California mission.

For Frederick and his family, that means Memorial Day is different this year. It no longer is somber. "That day was a day of joy, not sorrow," said Frederick, of the December day his brother was buried. "Through the years you keep hoping and hoping. ... All the things that go through your mind. Sometimes, it's crazy."

Recovering Pete Frederick's remains from a steep slope in the Nghe An province required years of repeat visits by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command based in Hawaii, as well as the efforts and memories of local Vietnamese.

"Every one of our missions is unique," said Maj. Rumi Nielson-Green, spokeswoman for the command. "What's typical is that they're all difficult." For 30 years, the soldiers, scientists and researchers of the command and its predecessors have been seeking out missing U.S. service members. More than 90,000 Americans remain missing in war, about 1,800 from Vietnam. The POW/MIA unit has about 18 teams of 10 to 14 members each. Each team has specialists trained in fields from anthropology to explosive ordnance removal. Teams often are deployed five or six months a year on missions of 30 to 45 days each.

'ALWAYS MY HERO'
The Fredericks grew up on Long Island, N.Y. Pete was five years older than Joe, who said the two did everything together. Pete once taught Joe how to swim by dropping him in Flushing Bay near LaGuardia Airport.

It was no surprise, Frederick said, when Pete signed up to fly. He later served in Korea, earning a Silver Star, but he never talked much about his experiences. "He was always my hero," Frederick said. "I never knew he got the Silver Star until he was buried."

Frederick said he tried to convince his brother not to volunteer for Vietnam, but Pete said he was needed there.

Pete Frederick was the wingman -- call sign "Hotrod 02" -- on an armed reconnaissance mission along the Ho Chi Minh trail in March 1967. As the two pilots closed in on their objective, the lead pilot noticed Frederick was missing.

After searching the area and trying to hail him by radio, a search-and-rescue unit looked for the missing pilot. Frederick eventually was listed as missing in action.

The first hints of Frederick's crash site came in 1988, according to a report by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. The Vietnamese government turned over 38 boxes of purported U.S. servicemen remains. Included was an identification card for Frederick, but none of the remains was his.

A POW/MIA team started investigating Pete Frederick's case in 1993. Investigators talked to witnesses, who reported seeing an airplane crash nearby. They found a piece of wreckage from an F-105, but not the crash site.

On later visits, investigators learned Frederick's remains had been buried by locals and then buried again elsewhere because they had been exposed by erosion.

For more than 30 days early in 2004, investigators scoured a steep hillside for signs of a grave or the wreckage. They found some skeletal remains, Frederick's rank insignia and 37 cents in change -- one cent for each year he had been missing.

'ALWAYS HOPE'
Though his family had done some investigating, the first Joe Frederick learned of his brother's fate came in a phone call last year from Pete's widow.

Joe had lost contact with her as she remarried and moved to England. But she told Joe what he had been waiting to hear: His brother was coming home. The funeral was in December, in the middle of destructive California rain and floods. But the skies opened up briefly for the full military funeral, including a flyover by the Air Force.

Frederick said the event brought some of his now-scattered family back together. There was peace of mind, something he is enjoying for the first time this year on a Memorial Day. He doesn't have to wish his brother is alive. He doesn't have to worry he's in pain. He knows where he is. "I guess this proves that there is always hope."


AP Alert - Business
June 3, 2005

First U.S. ambassador to Vietnam says prime minister's meeting with Bush key to WTO bid
By MARGIE MASON

HANOI, Vietnam_The United States' first postwar ambassador to Vietnam said Friday that the communist country's bid to enter the World Trade Organization this year depends heavily on the outcome of the prime minister's historic visit to Washington later this month.

Former Ambassador Pete Peterson said Prime Minister Phan Van Khai will not only be meeting U.S. President George W. Bush for the first time on June 21, but he will also be selling himself _ and his country _ to the American public when he becomes the highest-ranking Vietnamese leader to visit Washington since the Vietnam War.

"The success of this visit will foretell what the future is going to be between the relationship and the two countries," Peterson said. "I think it's very, very critical."

Peterson spent six and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam after being shot down in 1966 during his 67th bombing raid over the former North Vietnam. He later served as U.S. ambassador in Hanoi from 1997-2001.

Peterson, speaking to reporters after a U.S. business luncheon in Hanoi, said it is crucial for Washington to endorse Vietnam's bid to join the WTO if the country hopes to accede by year's end.

"I think without it, they don't have a prayer," he said. "If the U.S. president decides that this is in the best interest of the United States and he has good chemistry with Prime Minister Khai, it could very well be the key that opens that door and they find a way to get it done."

Before Vietnam can join the WTO, it must conclude bilateral agreements with all members and also reform its legal and economic codes to meet the group's requirements.

So far, Vietnam has reached deals with a handful of countries, including the 25-member European Union, and is in the process of changing some of its laws.

Peterson said he fears Vietnam's human rights record will be a factor in whether the former foes reach a WTO agreement. Last year, the U.S. State Department listed Vietnam as one of the world's most repressive countries for religious freedom. Vietnam has since promised to show more tolerance.

"All I can say is look at Vietnam in the same eye as you look at Saudi Arabia," Peterson said. "Are our relations predicted on what they're doing on human rights, and particularly women's rights? I don't think so. You've got to look at this thing from the standpoint of how (Vietnam is) making efforts to clean up the old policy."

Peterson said the issue of Agent Orange also will likely be discussed in Washington, and that he hopes more scientific research will be devoted to the defoliant sprayed by U.S. aircraft during the war to destroy Vietnamese troops' jungle cover.

Washington insists there is not enough scientific evidence to link Agent Orange to health problems.
Peterson said Bush and Khai will also likely touch on other issues, such as strengthening military ties as China becomes more dominant.

The visit comes as Vietnam and the United States mark 10 years since they normalized diplomatic ties, and 30 years since the war's end on April 30, 1975.

"This relationship has matured. We're past the symbolism," he said. "We're into real meat and potatoes, and we have the opportunity to deal with very, very serious and complex issues and we can find solutions, and that's what his mission is going to be all about."

 

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