|Joe Kalesnik, treasurer of Chapter 187, Western Massachusetts Chapter, notified us that after 55 years,
the remains of CPL Henry D. Connell of Hampden are coming home for burial on May 13, 2006 at Springfield.
He will be buried with full military honors.
Thanks to a decade-long Army recovery and forensic effort,
Connell's remains have been identified and will be buried next to his mother in Gate of Heaven Cemetery on
Connell's mother, Beatrice, and sister Audrey, both of Springfield, died in recent years.
Two years ago, Army officials notified Thomas Connell, an older brother, who lives in Stewart, Florida, that
there was a possibility that his older brother's bones were among the remains of 450 soldiers discovered by
North Korean officials and turned over to the Army.
After DNA testing, the Army confirmed the identity of
Thomas was notified in December.
CPL Connell was a member of Company L, 3d Battalion,
8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
He was wounded seriously on September 2, 1950, in South Korea
on September 2, 1950, and returned to duty on October 15, 1950, according to information posted on the
American Battle Monuments Commission web site.
He was listed as Missing in Action while fighting near
Unsan, North Korea, on November 2, 1950.
At dusk on November 1, two Chinese divisions launched an attack
on two battalions of the 8th Cavalry Regiment and one Republic of Korea regiment. When the battle was over,
some 1,000 Americans were killed and 400 captured.
Born in 1933, CPL Connell was 17 years of age at the
time of his death.
He was presumed dead on March 31, 1954.
According to the ABMC, CPL Connell was
awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster; Combat Infantryman Badge; Korean Service Medal; United
Nations Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation; and
Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
But according to a story by Jack Flynn in the April 7, 2006 issue of
The Springfield Republic, Connell earlier had also been awarded the Bronze Star, presumably at the time when
he was promoted to the rank of Corporal.
Even after the Army declared Connell dead, Thomas Connell
recalled that his mother refused to believe it. "She kept hoping that he was still alive, somewhere, moving
around from place to place.”
The reality set in when CPL Connell's possessions were sent to their home
later, including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
According to reporter Jack Flynn, at the service next
month, the medals will be presented to family members again, along with an American flag.