The Washington Times-Herald

Our Perspective

April 13, 2013

A hero heads home

WASHINGTON — Washington native Army Lt. Col. Don C. Faith Jr., for whom one of the new bridges on I-69 was named last fall, will be buried on Wednesday in Arlington National Cemetery.

Officials from the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office made the announcement regarding the ceremony earlier this week. Faith was awarded the Medal of Honor after being killed in the Korean War.

Faith, a veteran of World War II who continued to serve in the Army during the Korean War, was seriously injured by shrapnel on Dec. 1, 1950, in the Battle of Chosin, died a day later from those injuries. But his body was not recovered by U.S. forces at the time.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military honor recognizing personal acts of extraordinary courage on the battlefield.

“It’s so fascinating,” Barbara “Bobbie” Broyles, Faith’s only child, said of the process used in finding her father’s remains and the following identification. Reached at her home in Baton Rouge, La., Broyles told the Times Herald on Friday about the recovery of her father’s remains and the identification process.

“We (United States) had to pay them (North Korea) millions of dollars to get in and get permission to dig,” Broyles said. “And, it was a challenge for the scientists who were guided by the Chinese as to where to dig for the remains. Several other soldiers’ remains have been found in the same area, Broyles said, but they have yet to be identified. Advancement in DNA research, which Broyles called “fascinating,” is what led to her father’s identification.

“It’s done with such great respect and reverence. If you have someone who is missing, you can rest assured they are being treated appropriately and with great respect,” she said.

Families are given a booklet detailing where the remains were found, and explaining the evidence which they used to confirm identity. Then, families are given an option of accepting or not accepting the evidence as true.

“It’s clear to me that this is my father,” she said.

Broyles, a 66-year-old psychotherapist, her husband and the couple’s three children will travel to Washington, D.C., next week for her father’s burial.

And with the current political climate in North Korea, she said it’s “particularly important” to remember veterans of the Korean War.

“What’s so amazing is that our country doesn’t give up,” Broyles, told on Wednesday. “They keep looking for the missing and the prisoners of war and people who are unaccounted for in battles.” “It’s now just becoming apparent how critical Chosin was,” Broyles said in reference to conflict along the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, 1950. “We sacrificed a lot to help Korea.” At the time of his death, Faith and his unit - 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment - were attached to the 31st Regimental Combat Team as it advanced along the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. During attacks by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces, Faith assumed command after his commanding officer was captured by the Chinese Communists, and he continuously rallied his troops, personally leading an assault on an enemy position, defense officials have said.

In 2004, a joint team from the U.S. and North Korea surveyed the area where Faith was last seen and located his remains. To confirm the find, scientists used circumstantial evidence, forensic identification tools and mitochondrial DNA, using samples from Faith's brother for comparison.

“I’m incredulous,” Broyles,  told She praised Department of Defense scientists and researchers for their insistent work.

“He’s been missing for 62 years and it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing that he’s been found,” she said.

The DOD has annual meetings for families with relatives for whose bodies are unaccounted. Broyles’ family attended such a meeting several years ago, but she didn’t learn of her father¹s positive identification until last fall.

More than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War, U.S. defense officials said. Although Broyles was only 4 1/2 years old when her father was killed in battle, she remembers him as “happy.” “He was full of life and very, very disciplined,” she recalled. Broyles’ mother died when she was 13, but she remembers her mother telling of Lt.

Col. Faith’s “integrity,” and his insistence to “keep your word, and take responsibility for your actions, good or bad.” Bridges named previously Early last fall, Ind. State Rep. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) had authored a resolution urging the Indiana Department of Transportation to rename two bridges on I-69 after Faith and another soldier, Pvt. Richard Taylor, for his bravery during the Civil War.

“As a fallen U.S. solider from Daviess County and a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, naming the bridge last fall was a great way to recognize him and his service to our country. They told us the day of the bridge dedication (Oct. 19, 2012) that there had been a positive identification of his remains,” Messmer said.

Although the Medal of Honor was created for the Civil War, Congress made it a permanent decoration in 1863. The President of the United States, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to our bravest soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members since the medal's creating in 1861.

Rep. Messmer has been invited by Faith’s family to attend Wednesday's ceremony at Arlington, and he has been excused from his Indiana House duties to make the trip. Also, on behalf of the Veterans Adminstration, he will be presenting Faith's family with a burial wreath featuring an Indiana ribbon.

--- also  contributed to this story.

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