PORTLAND, Ore. -- A man taken prisoner during the Korean War was laid to rest at Willamette National Cemetery on Monday.
It was a ceremony the family of Army Corporal Edward Pool never thought would happen, after Pool was declared missing in action 66 years ago.
“What a thing!” Pool’s nephew Ed Truax said. “These are men who fought and died in the service of our country. They call themselves ‘The Chosin Few.’”
In November 1950, Pool was wounded in The Battle of the Chosin Resevoir and captured as a prisoner of war. He froze to death in January of 1951.
“They didn't really know for a long time what had happened to him,” said his twin sister, 88-year-old Susan Truax.
Pool’s remains were lying in a mass grave. Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned 208 boxes of commingled human remains to the U.S., representing more than 400 U.S. servicemen. Among them were Pool’s partial remains.
In November, a representative of the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency told Ed Truax that they had identified his uncle’s remains and would be flying them home.
“It was like a thunderbolt,” said Truax.
Scientists with DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used DNA analysis to match Pool’s remains with DNA samples they had collected 20 years earlier from Pool’s brother and niece. They also conducted anthropological analysis, matching his records and circumstantial evidence. Using that system, the military is identifying and returning the remains of hundreds of soldiers per year. About 7,700 Korean War vets are still unaccounted for.
Along with Pool’s remains, the military also presented his family with several medals, including The Purple Heart, a Prisoner of War Medal and a National Defense Medal.
Surviving Chosin Few veterans attended Pool’s memorial, which was conducted with full military honors.
“It's still a very big job to get the rest of these boys back,” said Korean War veteran Don Mason.
“Almost all of us have PTSD to a certain extent,” veteran Austin Shirley added.
Neither men encountered Pool while fighting near the Chosin Reservoir, but said they wouldn’t have missed his memorial.
“Because he was there with us,” said Mason, “And he didn't make it back.”
Corporal Pool is back now. It just took 66 years and a promise to leave no soldier behind.
“It's bigger than my family and it's bigger than my uncle,” said Ed Truax. “I think it sends the message that we will never give up, we will never stop supporting the soldiers that we sent off to war that didn't come home.”