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    Marine escorts Korean POW after 60 years abroad

    Marine escorts Korean POW after 60 years abroad

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Michele Hunt | Army Sgt. Ralph Carlson died 60 years ago after being taken captured in the Korean...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Michele Hunt 

    1st Marine Logistics Group

    MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- In 1954, the family of Army Sgt. Ralph Carlson received news that their loved one passed away in a Korean internment camp. Today, with the help of DNA testing, science has helped to identify remains, bringing closure to Carlson’s family and families across the country.

    Carlson’s remains will be escorted to Braham, Minn., June 25, by his great nephew Pfc. Jonathan C. Wescott, a legal services specialist with Legal Services Support Section, Service Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group.
    “It’s a pretty big honor to be able to do this for my family; it’s overwhelming,” said Wescott, 21.

    Nearly 60 years after his death, Carlson’s remains will be buried in what once was an empty grave, and bring closure to a family that has been left with many unanswered questions.

    “My family is very close, and there was definitely a hole left when he didn’t come home,” said Wescott, a Gig Harbor, Wash., native. “I think this funeral will bring us closer, and it’s a great opportunity to be the one who escorts him home.”

    When Wescott’s mother, Linda, heard about an organization that helps reunite families with relatives who were prisoners of war and missing in action, she contacted them and arranged for the family to provide DNA, which is used to compare to samples of remains from previous wars. In November 2010, five members of Carlson’s family went to Hawaii to give DNA samples.

    The Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command based in Oahu, is home to the largest forensic laboratory in the world. Since its founding in 2003, JPAC has identified more than 560 American service members missing from World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

    “It’s astounding that they were able to find his remains,” said Wescott. “After being gone for so long, it’s amazing he will finally be able to go home.”

    Wescott said his great uncle had planned to start farming in his hometown after the war. The small town is a close-knit community, and the return of Carlson’s remains affects more than just family members. Volunteer organizations, including the Girl Scouts and a veterans’ biker group, have offered their support for the homecoming.

    As the town eagerly awaits the funeral where Ralph Carlson’s remains will be laid to rest, Wescott said he is excited to have the honor of escorting his great uncle to the cemetery. Since the discovery of the remains, many media outlets have been involved in the process. On July 4, “Good Morning America” will air Carlson’s funeral as part of its Independence Day special.

    “I think it’s cool to see how far his story has gone,” said Wescott.
    In addition to being reunited with their missing soldier, Wescott said his family is anxious to see him, and his mother is excited that he is able to take a part in this event.

    “It’s a wonderful circle that I think comes from God that Jon, who is serving his country, can bring home his great uncle who died serving this country,” said Linda Carlson Wescott, Wescott’s mother. “To have Jon be the one that brings him home is bigger than words can say because you just feel in your heart that it’s right.”



    Date Taken: 06.15.2011
    Date Posted: 06.16.2011 12:17
    Story ID: 72178

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