Last Trip: Korean War Veteran’s Remains Identified | Local News
After being reported missing in action in Korea 71 years ago, Army Private First Class Phillip T. Hoogacker will finally be laid to rest next week.
His remains were among four bodies found in a mass grave in the fall of 1954 as part of an agreement between the United Nations and North Korea and China to recover soldiers killed in the war. But it took nearly 67 years before he was formally identified, which happened earlier this year thanks to a DNA match with his sister, Helen Fennel of Brunswick and a brother from Wisconsin.
They submitted DNA samples in the late 1990s, but it was not until his remains, which were kept with other unidentified remains at the Honolulu National Memorial Cemetery, were transferred to a laboratory. of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam that a breakthrough occurred. . The dental, anthropological and mitochondrial analysis made it possible to identify the remains.
Fennel and other family members will attend Hoogacker’s funeral, with full military honors, July 23 in Livonia, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He will be buried next to his mother.
The last time Fennel said he saw his older brother was at his mother’s funeral in 1950.
Fennel said his older brother, 23, had just completed basic army training and was given a short time off to attend his mother’s funeral and memorial service. After the funeral, Hoogacker received orders for Korea, where he was assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment.
He was reported missing in action on July 27, 1950, last seen receiving first aid for a minor shrapnel injury. Defense accounting agency POW / MIA believes he was captured by the Korean People’s Army and forcibly marched towards Pyongyang, where he died as a prisoner of war.
Fennel said family members were informed by military officials in mid-April that his brother’s remains had been identified.
“I screamed,” she said. “Everyone reacted differently.
Fennel said military officials apologized when they called to break the news for not showing up in person, but the COVID-19 restrictions were still in effect.
“They would have come to tell us at the front door,” she said.
Fennel said she always had an old photo of her brother hanging on her fridge as a reminder and never gave up on her lifelong quest to have her brother’s remains returned.
Fennel said his brother could have been buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but his family believe a site next to his mother is more appropriate.
Fennel said family from Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan would attend the funeral.
“I think it’s going to be very emotional,” she said. “I was 10 at the time, but I never forgot it.”