Remains of Franklin Co. Korean War soldier identified with single bone

Remembering a Korean War soldier

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - The remains of a Korean War soldier will return home for burial.

Army Cpl. William L. Brown, 18, of Franklin County, Ill., was killed in the Korean War during the battle of the Chosin Reservoir.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, he was accounted for on October 17, 2019.

Brown will be buried in Mound City, Ill.

According to the Meredith-Waddell Funeral Home, graveside services with full military honors will be at 1 p.m. on Friday, April 3 at Mound City National Cemetery.

Now, his little sister, Dr. Clarice Burchell, and other family members are planning a proper memorial service 69 years after his death.

Burchell said Brown’s calling was to serve his country.

“He said that he wanted to join the army, and it was like he would not let up on this wish," Burchell said.

Brown was so adamant that their dad found a way to change Brown’s birthday so he could enter enlist early.

He was only 17 when he joined.

That was in 1950, just as the Korean War began.

In late 1950, Brown was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.

Brown and hundreds of others shipped out to a snowy, ice-cold battlefield in North Korea.

Government documents detail a bloody battle where the Chinese Communist Forces launched a surprise attack.

“The Chinese had hit them so hard that they had no time to do anything with those that had fallen and my brother was one of those," Burchell said.

Brown was reported missing in action on December 2, 1950, in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea.

Following the battle, his remains could not be recovered.

On July 27, 2018, following the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un in June 2018, North Korea turned over 55 boxes, purported to contain the remains of American service members killed during the Korean War. The remains arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman, Hawaii on Aug. 1, 2018, and were subsequently accessioned into the DPAA laboratory for identification.

“I never thought this would happen, honestly," Burchell said.

To identify his remains, scientists from DPAA used circumstantial evidence. Scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System also used mitochondrial DNA and autosomal DNA analysis.

Burchell’s DNA matched a single leg bone belonging to her brother.

“Is that strange to have closure with just a bone?" Burchell asked.

According to DPAA, Brown’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

“Had it not been for our President, praise God, we would not have the one bone that they had been able to identify of my brother," Burchell said.

Burchell remembered her big brother as a responsible young man, but one who liked to live a little on the edge.

She said Brown was always her babysitter, and like any older brother, he liked to aggravate.

“I can remember playing hide and seek with the neighborhood and I was the one who was it," Burchell said. "And it was dusky dark and he came up behind me, I did not know it. He scared me. Made me afraid of the dark for years.”

Burchell laughed about growing up with Brown.

“He liked to scare me, but I always knew that if I was in trouble he was there for me," Burchell said.

Burchell hopes that by sharing his story the men who fought in what is known as the Forgotten War will never be forgotten.

“To realize that what we have enjoyed and taken for granted for so very long. it is because there are those that loved this country and our people so very much that they were ready to give everything for us," Burchell said.

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