Burial set for former MIA soldier
SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. » A Minnesota family is preparing to bury a Schofield Barracks soldier who disappeared nearly 58 years ago during the Korean War.
The remains of Sgt. Edward James O'Brien have been identified and will be buried next week at Fort Snelling, Minn., during a ceremony with full military honors, family members and the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office said.
O'Brien was a member of the 25th Infantry Division, which was subject to a surprise attack by 300,000 Chinese troops in November 1950. The Defense Department said he was missing in action after Chinese troops overran his position south of Unsan. He was 29.
O'Brien's great-nephew, David O'Brien, said the family did research to find out more about their missing relative. The family had been told that Jim O'Brien was helping rescue Marines who had been ambushed.
"My great-uncle Jim, along with his people with the 25th Infantry, went in to get them out," David O'Brien said, "but my Uncle Jim never came back."
The Defense Department said in a news release yesterday that in 1998 a joint effort by the U.S. military and North Korean forces recovered the remains of a soldier south of Unsan that had two military identification tags with O'Brien's name on them. However, it has taken 10 years for DNA analysis and other evidence to conclude the remains were O'Brien's.
"It's still sad because he passed away, but it does have a happy ending. It's 58 years later, and he's going to be buried with full honors," said O'Brien's great-niece Megan McEvoy.
O'Brien served in the Navy during World War II before enlisting for the Korean War.
David O'Brien said his family's persistence paid off.
"It shows our guys that no matter how long it takes -- whether it's four days, a year, 58 years -- we're not going to stop looking for you, and we are going to try to bring you home," he said.
Services for O'Brien are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Minnesota.