Legion seeks POW/MIA families

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 16, 2004

AHOSKIE – Christmas is always a special time of the year for families to enjoy.

From food, to fun, to opening gifts, to just simply reveling in the company of loved ones, Dec. 25 seems to bring out the best in everyone. But it can also be a time of sadness when recalling the loss of a family member.

For over a half century, a trio of Roanoke-Chowan area families pause on Christmas Day to remember their loved ones, three of 104 North Carolina servicemen who remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

It’s those family members who are part of a statewide search to take part in a unique process.

Sponsored jointly by the North Carolina American Legion, a program has been developed that obtains DNA samples of the surviving family members of missing military personnel. That DNA is critical to properly identifying the remains of these missing soldiers, when and if they are found.

Locally, three servicemen remain missing. All are Army PFC’s – Darden D. Miller of Bertie County (reported missing on July 27, 1950), Charles D. Casper of Gates County (reported captured on July 12, 1950) and Gilbert G. Rose Jr. of Hertford County (reported captured on Feb. 12, 1951).

According to John Bracy, Commander of Ahoskie American Legion Post 102, the fact that 50-plus years have passed has presented some problems.

&uot;We’re just trying to help out the best we can in this situation,&uot; said Bracy. &uot;Due to the fact that 54 years have passed since the start of the Korean War, our military has lost contact with some of the family members of our POW/MIA’s (Prisoners of War/Missing in Action).&uot;

However, no one is giving up hope of finding these missing soldiers.

The United States Department of Defense remains active in its search for remains in North Korea. There have been over 30 operations to recover the remains of missing servicemen.

When remains are located, they are sent to Hawaii for DNA testing. Those DNA samples are compared to known DNA collected from family members of the missing military personnel. That procedure allows for proper identification, allowing families to gain possession of the remains and affording them an opportunity to conduct a proper burial.

&uot;There’s not much we can do other than reach out into the communities we serve here through our American Legion Post and make an attempt to find the surviving family members of our fallen comrades,&uot; Bracy said. &uot;By finding these family members, we are assisting in this ongoing recovery program.&uot;

Bracy urged anyone with information concerning the families of the servicemen mentioned earlier in this story to contact him at either 332-6880 or 332-8192.