Remains of Korean War POW are returned to U.S. and buried with family in Cypress
More than 60 years after he died as a Korean War prisoner, the placement of his grave a thriller, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Cushman has lastly come residence.
The journey to return his stays to his family, who laid Cushman to relaxation Saturday in Cypress, required cooperation between United States and North Korean officers, in addition to genealogical analysis and DNA testing.
It was a prolonged and convoluted course of, and it’s one the army applies to any stays it might discover of the almost 83,000 Americans who served their nation however by no means returned.
“There’s some magic involved, and there’s a lot of luck involved,” mentioned Chuck Prichard, public affairs director for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
“We have to fulfill that promise that if you go and defend our country … it is the rest of our responsibility to bring you home.”
For Cushman’s niece Tera Barrera of Lakewood, burying her uncle’s cremated stays subsequent to his half-brother at Forest Lawn cemetery is the ultimate chapter in a long-unfinished e-book.
Cushman went to struggle at 18, and the family discovered he died in a Korean jail camp, Barrera mentioned.
Her grandparents – Cushman’s father and stepmother who raised him from infancy – “did have some type of closure” as a result of they knew what had occurred, she mentioned. But for years the placement of their son’s stays was unknown.
A Saturday service for Cushman included full army honors. A quantity of veterans and representatives of the Korean consulate paid their respects alongside with Barrera and her mom, who was married to Cushman’s half-brother.
“We know the sacrifice that, in this case, this young kid (made),” mentioned Paul Anderson of the Patriot Guard Riders, a bunch of veterans who trip bikes to attend army funerals if a family requests it.
“It’s our satisfaction and it’s our healing to be here for those that came before us.”
Richard Cushman was born in Bingham, Idaho. He joined the Army at 18 and in November 1950 was assigned to an infantry firm on the western Korean peninsula, in accordance to POW accounting company info.
By the time he was captured after a battle close to the village of Kunu-ri, Cushman’s heroism had earned him a bronze star, silver star, purple coronary heart and different decorations. In the camp, he caught a abdomen bug and died of malnutrition. A fellow soldier who survived their captivity returned with the information of Cushman’s demise, Barrera mentioned.
“My grandparents did not forget him,” she mentioned. Every 12 months on his birthday, Cushman’s mother and father would have a cake, “they’d bring out his medals and they’d talk about him.”
Over the years, U.S. officers made numerous makes an attempt to find and establish fallen troops. In the 1990s, North Korea turned over greater than 200 containers which will include the stays of up to 400 individuals, Prichard mentioned. His company continues to be working to establish some of them.
Cushman’s stays had been discovered extra just lately, throughout a 2002 effort by a joint U.S. and North Korean restoration group that owed its success to each luck and detective work.
Searches typically start in the archives of the U.S. army and pleasant nations, which include experiences of battle particulars, plane crashes, reconnaissance photographs, medical recordsdata and x-rays of troopers, Prichard mentioned.
Once a possible website for stays is situated, a group conducts subject analysis, checking native cemeteries in case U.S. troops had been buried there and speaking to residents who could keep in mind one thing helpful.
In Cushman’s case, the restoration group spoke with a witness who, as a baby, noticed the Korean army move the village and knew they’d dumped some our bodies, in accordance to info the army offered Barrera. Once the group knew the place to dig, it recovered bones and troopers’ private results and introduced them again to the U.S. to analyze.
Cushman’s organic mother and father and half-brother have died, so researchers from Prichard’s company had to discover a relative on the mom’s aspect who would offer a DNA pattern. It was a match, and in 2017 the army made a constructive identification.
Later, Barrera’s family requested to bury Cushman.
“We actually had a cremation plot right next to my father, which I think is fate,” Barrera mentioned.
Saluted with honors
About 50 individuals turned out Saturday to see Cushman laid to relaxation, together with his sister-in-law, Kathy Cushman, nieces Barrera and Wendy Griffin, representatives of the Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles and the Korea Unification Advisory Council, which supplied a wreath of pink and white lilies and roses.
“Thanks to his bravery and ultimate sacrifice, Korea is now a thriving democracy. Korea owes a debt of gratitude to tens of thousands of American GIs” like Cushman who died in the struggle, mentioned Wan-joong Kim, Korea’s consul normal in Los Angeles.
A California State Honor Guard gave Cushman a rifle salute, and one member bugled a mournful rendition of Taps.
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders lined the trail from the hearse that bore Cushman’s stays to the burial plot, holding American flags and saluting him all the way in which.
While Cushman’s story was introduced to a detailed Saturday, many troopers’ stays wait to be situated or recognized.
Of roughly 7,700 U.S. residents who didn’t return from Korea, the army believes the stays of greater than 5,000 are nonetheless there, Prichard mentioned. And officers estimate that beginning with World War II, simply 34,000 personnel of the almost 83,000 misplaced are recoverable; when planes crash in water or ships sink, for instance, they could by no means be situated.
But for individuals who do get their liked one again, even a few years later, there’s a way of reduction, of completeness, Prichard mentioned.
That’s how Barrera feels.
“I’m really doing this for my father, my grandparents, and I’m thankful that I’m here to do that for them,” she mentioned. “(Cushman) fought for our country, and now he’s back in his country.”