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Family gets incredible details on Korean War MIA’s remains

Nov 14, 2019 02:43PM

By Alan Hodge

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The September 26, 2019 edition of the BannerNews first broke the story that remains of Korean War MIA Cpl. Earl Duncan of Cramerton had been discovered and  the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) had identified them. Now, new details of the situation have been revealed to his family.

On October 31, a representative from the U.S. government visited with Duncan’s kin at the home of his younger brother Sam. Other siblings are Howard and sister Elsie Duncan Loftin. There are about twenty nieces and nephews remaining and one of them, Lisa Whitt of Mt. Holly, also sat in on the emotional meeting that included an explanation of the contents of Cpl. Duncan’s file which is nearly an inch thick.

The file contained a huge amount of documentation dating back to 1953. One of them summarized what had actually happened during the battle in which Cpl. Duncan lost his life, how his remains had  been identified, and the events that saw them brought back to the U.S.

An excerpt from the file included- “Corporal Duncan joined the U.S. Army from North Carolina and was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. In late November 1950, his unit was positioned north of Sinhung-ni, North Korea, on the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir. On November 27, Chinese Communist Forces launched a large scale surprise attack against U.S. and United Nations troops at the reservoir. Cpl. Duncan was reported missing on December 2, 1950, following an engagement with the enemy as his unit withdrew from Sinhung-ni. He was not identified among remains returned to the U.S. immediately following the war. In 2018, as a result of a summit meeting between leaders of the two nations, the North Korean government returned fifty-five boxes of war-dead remains to U.S. custody. Some of the remains were recovered from Sinhung-ri, in an area consistent with where Cpl. Duncan was reported missing in action. DPAA scientists, using modern forensic techniques, were able to individually identify Cpl. Duncan from among these remains. Cpl. Duncan is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Needless to say, the family was flabbergasted at what the file contained- including a photo of  Cpl. Duncan’s remains.

“It was an emotional thing to see the actual physical evidence,” said Whitt. 

Sam recounted how he felt following the meeting.

“A lot of things went through my mind,” he said. “It gave me closure.” 

Whitt also expressed how the news had make a deep impact on everyone.

“There are still three siblings living,” she said. “For them to have seen this in their lifetime is very special for the entire family.”

The final chapter in Cpl. Duncan’s 69-year saga will unfold in a couple of weeks. His remains are due to arrive at  Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 26. On Saturday, Nov. 30, visitation will take place at McAdenville Wesleyan Church from 11am-1pm, followed by a graveside funeral at Gaston Memorial Park with full military honors. The public is invited to attend.