JANESVILLE, Wis. — A U.S. Army soldier finally has been laid to rest in his Wisconsin hometown 65 years after he was killed in the Korean War.
Cpl. Donald Hendrickson was buried Saturday at Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville. A hearse bore Hendrickson’s remains to the cemetery after a memorial service at Cargill United Methodist Church. Soldiers carried his casket to its final resting place, The Janesville Gazette (http://bit.ly/2eeMdqc ) reported.
For decades, Hendrickson’s remains lay in an unmarked grave in North Korea. They were identified this year.
Bagpipes played as Hendrickson’s casket was removed from the hearse. Honor guards of local law enforcement and veterans groups stood at attention. After the soldiers fired a final salute, one of them played “Taps.”
The soldiers folded the flag that had draped Hendrickson’s casket and presented it to Pfc. Victoria Pirkel, Hendrickson’s great-great niece.
Pirkel joined the Marines last year, the latest in a long line of family members who have served in the military.
“It’s a huge honor to know that’s my family, my bloodline. I came from that,” Pirkel said later.
Pirkel and an Army sergeant, both on one knee, presented the flag to Barbara Truman, Hendrickson’s niece, who knew him when she was 5.
“It’s an honor,” Truman said later. “We’re just so blessed that he’s gotten the recognition. It’s amazing this town came together to support him.”
At the service, Truman spoke of her grandmother, Hendrickson’s mother, writing letters for years in an effort to find out what happened to him. She died in 1994 without knowing.
“I know the day my grandmother died she crossed over, and Donnie was there to meet her,” Truman said through tears.
About 70 people attended the church service. The Rev. Susan Lockman said that Hendrickson was to be buried close to his mother, “who never gave up hope.”
Hendrickson was 19 when he was listed as missing in action in December 1950 after heavy fighting at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, where thousands of Chinese soldiers poured into North Korea and overwhelmed United Nations troops.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency notified Hendrickson’s family on May 24 that it had made a tentative identification of his remains, Truman said.
Information from: The Janesville Gazette, http://www.gazetteextra.com