This undated photo made available by The Department of Defense shows Army Maj. Stephen T. Uurtamo.
(Department of Defense, via AP)
CHICAGO – Not long after her father went missing during the Korean War, Carol Elkin spotted than Gene. Dwight Eisenhower in the centre of Chicago, and did what any child would do when coming face to face with america’s most famous soldier: She asked him to her father’s home.
On Tuesday, the now 76-year-old Elkin will be at Arlington National Cemetery buried the remains of the Army Maj. Stephen Uurtamo, nearly seven decades after he was taken prisoner by the Chinese and died.
It is a chance to say goodbye to her father, watching while his remains are to be buried with the dignity and the honor that he deserves, and see how her children and grandchildren to see that their own history is linked to the history of their country.
“This tells my family they are a part of something,” said the retiree, who lives on Chicago’s North Side with her husband. “I think that these children would think that we went from wwii to Vietnam and they don’t even know there was a War in korea.”
The service is provided as a questions about the whereabouts of those who never returned from the war of 1950-53 have pushed their way into the news, with the promise of President Donald Trump, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to recover the remains of so many of the nearly 7,700 U.S. troops that are still unaccounted for.
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For the Uurtamo family, the service is the last chapter of a story that began in the late 1950s, when the 32-year-old career soldier was declared missing in action after intense fighting in one of the bloodiest battles of the war in the vicinity of the Ch’ongch’on River in North Korea.
He was declared dead after a number of returning AMERICAN pows reported that Uurtamo were captured and died in a war a transitory camp where the prisoners who survived came home with tales of watching their friends starve to death.
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“He died of malnutrition and pneumonia,” Elkin said.
The whereabouts of his body remained a mystery for decades. Then, in 2005, a joint AMERICAN and North Korean military recovery team recovered 32 sets of remains from a cemetery. About eight years after that, Elkin went to a hotel in Chicago for one of the events of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency maintains throughout the country, where people such as they are at the height of their missing loved ones and a chance to offer DNA samples for comparison with DNA pulled from recovered remains.
The match came in September last year and with the Uurtamo the name was taken from the list of Americans missing from the Korean War, which now stands at 7,697 names. He added to the list of 459 people, of which the remains have been found since 1982. And, according to the POW/MIA agency, the place where his name on the Courts of the Missing at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu will be made to an escutcheon to indicate that he is now good for.
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Elkin said she, her husband, and more than 30 family members will be present at the funeral. Inside the casket will remain, dress uniform and his medals, ” she said.
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Elkin said, ” it is a chance to be openly proud of the father, of whom she rarely talked about, because he died in a war few seemed to care, and her parents were divorced and “you don’t talk about things like that.”
Now, she said, she can talk about her father and her most lasting memory: one day, when she was still young, and he visited her in the hospital and told her not to cry because “little soldiers don’t cry.”
She is excited by the prospect of her father, is buried in “its rightful place in the most famous military cemetery in the U.S.
“I am proud that our country would do this for someone who has been there so long ago — that he gets to go out in a blaze of glory,” she said.