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    Remains of 3rd Infantry Division Korean War Soldier finally come home

    Remains of 3rd Infantry Division Korean War Soldier finally come home

    Photo By Pfc. Elsi Delgado | Lt. Col. Brian Montgomery, right, commander of the "Can Do Battalion," 3rd Battalion,...... read more read more

    ERMINE, Ky. – Soldiers, family members and friends paid their final respects to Cpl. Donald L. Menken, a U.S. Army Korean War casualty who served in Company K, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, who was laid to rest on May 14 during a ceremony at Green Acres Cemetery in Ermine. At the age of 21, Menken was reported missing in action after being wounded by artillery shell fragments June 10, 1953, while guarding Outpost Harry, a position on the main road to Seoul in what is now the Demilitarized Zone in the Republic of Korea. The young Soldier was then declared killed in action June 11, 1954, and non-recoverable in 1956.

    Following the Korean War, the American Graves Registration Service Group found remains in Korea that were designated as Unknown X-6039 after they could not be identified.

    Unknown X-6039 was transported with other unidentified Korean War remains and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

    In July 2018, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency proposed a plan to identify the 652 Korean War unknown remains from the Punchbowl. On Jan. 28, 2019, X-6039 remains were disinterred and transferred to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii. Menken’s remains were identified on Feb. 2, 2022, using dental and anthropological analysis along with some other circumstantial evidence.

    “It felt like we finally got the closure we had been needing,” said Fulton Combs, a nephew of Menken. “Although many years have passed, he has never left our hearts.”

    Soldiers assigned to the present-day 3rd Bn., 15th IR, in the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, traveled to Ermine to render honors to their fallen brother during his funeral.

    “He is one of our Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Brian Montgomery, commander of the 3rd Bn., 15th IR. “It is an honor and a privilege to bring him home.”

    The funeral began at the First Baptist Church of Whitesburg for a eulogy before Menken’s casket was transported to Green Acres Cemetery where attendees were able to pay tribute to the fallen Soldier.

    “For Donny’s brothers in arms to have shown up and pay their respects has been the greatest thing that could have possibly happened,” Combs said. “The love that this family has been shown by the military has been something we will always appreciate.”

    On display at Menken’s funeral was a letter written by the Korean president sent to the family in 2000 thanking them for Menken’s noble sacrifice during the war.

    “It was the ultimate sacrifice,” Combs said. “He knew that he could die and still chose to fight for the people and country he loves.”

    Although nearly 70 years have passed since his death, Combs remembers that Menken was always the apple of his mother’s eye. Combs said Menken’s mother never gave up hope that one day he would return home, and although she passed before he did, the family chose Green Acres Cemetery so that Menken could be laid to rest beside her.

    “She never accepted Donny’s death and always hoped he would come back home,” said Marie Hinerman, the sister of Menken. “I know that if she were here, she would’ve thought this was all amazing.”

    During the ceremony, Soldiers currently serving in Menken’s former regiment honored their fellow brother in arms with a 21-gun salute and presented the family with the folding of the American flag.

    “I’m humbled to be part of this ceremony and happy to have been of service to the family,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Nicholas Paske, the senior enlisted advisor for the 3rd Bn., 15th IR, 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID. “He was our brother and it’s important that he is laid to rest by his brothers.”

    During the ceremony, as the solemn echoes of Taps filled the air, Montgomery knelt down and placed the American flag in Hinerman’s hands while thanking her for her brother’s sacrifice.

    “They brought his remains back and now he will get to lay beside his mother,” Hinerman said. “I can never thank them enough.”



    Date Taken: 05.16.2022
    Date Posted: 05.16.2022 23:45
    Story ID: 420840
    Location: ERMINE, KY, US 
    Hometown: FORT KNOX, KY, US
    Hometown: FORT STEWART, GA, US
    Hometown: HINESVILLE, GA, US
    Hometown: SAVANNAH, GA, US
    Hometown: WHITESBURG, KY, US

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