Wednesday, September 3, 2008

what remains, perhaps maybe can finally come home?

My mother wrote me this morning.  She and her sisters (the surviving siblings of my uncle Billy) "have been contacted by a man who works for the Army.  His job is to contact next of kin of those who died in Korea.  After talking to each of us, he will send his report to the Army and they, in turn will send us DNA kits, which we return to the Army.  The Army is trying to match DNA's with soldiers' remains from Korea.
This man was interesting, he had really done his research, knew most of our history and even had a picture of me from the (name of school Mom attended) school.  Didn't have pictures of (two sisters), since my name was on some of Billy's paperwork he concentrated his serve on me, mostly.
Anyway, it exciting to think we could possibly have some of Billy's remains to bury.  In almost every letter he wrote, he mentioned that all he wanted to do was come home.  I pray that will happen."
I pray that, also. 
For those who don't know, my Uncle Billy signed up to serve in the Korean War when he was actually underage (which I believe is part of why some of his official paperwork has his last name slightly misspelled).  He was trying to keep enough money coming in to pay the foster home people to keep my mother and her youngest sister from being adopted out (they also stayed with their maternal aunt Anais for a bit).  I think.  Their mother had died of a chronic disease when my mother was just 9 years old; their father was able to get himself back on financial track, et al, sufficiently to bring the girls back home (and at some point he remarried). 
My Uncle Billy, William Edward Douglas, was captured and kept as a Prisoner of War (POW), and died as a POW.  I believe he died in 1951.  His tour in Korea may have been the only time he was ever out of the state of Maine, or the neighboring states and Canada. 
Mom says that, "I talked with the guy this morning and mentioned that on Billy's birth certificate his name is spelled Douglas.  He told me that he had already mentioned to the Army that Douglas could be spelled two ways.  So, it shouldbe ok.  And, we can ask that the records show the correct spelling."  Last time I visited the Korean War Memorial on "the" Mall (Washington, D.C.), Billy's last name had an extra "s" in it, and that's how it shows currently in the online records.  Just NOW they've added, in red, a DOD alert requesting family DNA samples.
Can Billy really possibly ever come home?  Is there still real honest hope that his remains even be identified?  It seems as if North Korea is so closed off from allowing return of soldiers remains, and the years get longer.  Time passes by.  This would be great. 
I waved to the Korean War veterans on Monday, towards the end of the Labor Day parade I'd also been in.  I lost my POW/MIA pin over a year ago; I used to wear it in Billy's honor anytime I was in a parade.
May all who serve, or who have served, come home, preferably alive and whole, of course.


  1. Here's hoping for some closure.  The 50's were a helluva lot harder than people realize.

  2. That's exciting!  I hope you can get his remains back.  :-)  Sounds promising.


  3. to pay the foster home people to keep my mother and her youngest sister from being adopted out.  < That redefines teen angst for sure.

    I would hope this does indeed happen to bring some peace to your Mother, who lost one protector, then another, at such a tender age.

  4. I certainly hope Uncle Billy does come home.  He deserves to be home.

  5. Wow what an interesting story.  I hope Billy comes home for you and your mom.  ~ Mike

  6. This would be so amazing, after all these years.
    What they have done with recovering remains thus far is fascinating, and has meant so much to the families. Please keep us posted.