It could be a page right out of the Korean War novel, War Remains.
Another soldier, Corporal James Rexford Hare, has come home from a forgotten war. And this time, it’s a soldier who was captured during the battle at Hoengseong.
Hare was in the 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, which was part of the American forces supporting Republic of South Korea forces near the South Korean town of Hoengsong, when Chinese forces launched a massive counter attack, according to a news release from the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office in Washington.
According to the release, “During the attacks, U.S. and Korean forces were forced to retreat south. Over the next few days units of the 2nd ID were attacked again, suffering more than 200 casualties, including more than 100 servicemen being captured by enemy forces.”
Read the rest of the story here.
Thanks to advances in DNA testing, more and more remains are being identified and quicker than in the past. Although there are still more than 7,900 missing Americans from the Korean War, with each set of remains identified and another service member coming home brings hope to those families waiting for their loved one to come home.
Until They Are Home
War Remains (Ebook)
War Remains (Paperback)
In 2001, while writing for the Korea Times as a feature writer, I had the opportunity and the the honor to meet a group of Korean War veterans who came to Korea to visit the Chipyong-ni battlefield near Wonju and Hoengseong.
One of the veterans I met was Oscar Cortez, who was captured by the Chinese at Hoengseong on February 12, 1951 and spent the remainder of the war in a POW camp.
When I started to write War Remains in 2009, I remembered that meeting I had with Oscar and the article I wrote about his experiences during the war (which is an essay in Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm, 2011). Based on that article, and a few others I wrote, became the basis for the story of Bobby Washkowiak.
In 2012, while doing some research on the Korean War, Doug Mayes happened across my book and read it. It turned out that he was searching for information about the Battle of Hoengseong because his Uncle Jimmy fought in the battle and like Oscar, was also captured by the enemy. Like a number of readers who have come across my book while searching for information about the battle and the search for MIAs, Doug’s uncle was also listed as missing in action (his family was contacted for a DNA sample and hopefully his uncle will soon be coming home.
Today, Doug sent me a message telling me that he had just gotten off the phone with with a Korean War veteran who had been with his uncle on the march to the camp:
Jeff, I just got off the phone with a Korean War POW who was with my uncle when he died. The chain of events which led me to this man was started by your book and research. Thank you so much, Doug
Not the kind of closure that Doug and his family wants, but it was an honor to have helped them fill in some of the blanks.
Until They Are Home
— JPAC Motto
Sometimes you connect with a reader which makes all the difference in the world:
Dear Mr. Miller,
Last year, while looking for information about the Hoengsong Valley Massacre, I came across your website, went from one end of it to the other and then bought your book, War Remains.
My father, Sgt. Luther Rominger was killed there on 13 February 1951. He was a member of the 2nd Infantry Division, 15th Field Artillery Battalion. I have a subscription to Ancestry.com and would like to add your pictures and a link to your website to his page.
I thank you for posting those pictures. Some how it makes everything more real to me. I was about 18 months old when he died and all I have are pictures and other people’s memories of him.
Again, Thank you and my God’s blessings be on you and your family.
Margaret Rominger Black
Bumped into a colleague today who had just finished reading War Remains.
He bought two copies of it from me last week, one for himself and one for his father in Australia.
Anyway, he told me how much he liked it and asked me if it was based on a true story. I told him that it wasn’t but that I had met a lot of veterans and imagined what it would be like for a family still waiting for their loved one to come home from the war.
“It was very moving,” he said. “You really captured the home front well. I could really identify with the family. I know my father is going to love this book when he gets it.”
I’m sure he will.