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Long-lost Korea vet laid to rest in Holyoke

April 1, 2017 GMT

HOLYOKE — Robert Whelihan Sr.’s final memory of his cousin, Jules Hauterman Jr., was of their goodbye on the autumn day in 1949 when Hauterman left this western Massachusetts town to return to the Army months before the start of the Korean War.

“I was 9 years old, and he kneeled down in front of me and said, ‘Bobby, I’ve gotta go,’” Whelihan remembered. “I gave him a hug and a kiss and said, ‘Are you going to come back to me?’ He said, ‘I will.’ But of course he never did. Until now.”

Yesterday, nearly 68 years after their farewell, the remains of Army Cpl. Jules Hauterman Jr. were laid to rest at St. Jerome Cemetery in Holyoke, surrounded by his surviving relatives.

“It’s not a sad day,” Whelihan said after an Army Honor Guard presented him with the flag that had covered his cousin’s casket. “It’s a day of celebration.”

Hauterman was a 19-year-old Army medic in December 1950 when he went missing during a bloody Chinese attack on U.S. troops at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.

His remains were found in 1954 but went unidentified for more than six decades at a military cemetery in Hawaii, where they were kept under the name “Unknown X-15904.”

Whelihan tried for years to find his missing cousin, making trips to Washington, D.C., to search for records and helping the Pentagon get the DNA it needed to make a match. In the end, it was an X-ray chart and dental records attached to Hauterman’s military file that made that connection through the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

“I was speechless when they called me,” Whelihan said.

Hauterman’s family “is one of the fortunate ones,” said Francisco A. Urena, Massachusetts secretary of veterans’ services. More than 7,750 Americans, including 198 from the Bay State, remain unaccounted for from the Korean War, according to officials.

As the hearse made its way yesterday from the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home in Holyoke to Blessed Sacrament Parish and then the cemetery, hundreds of people, including some 200 children from Blessed Sacrament School, lined Northampton Street in the rain, holding American flags to bid a hometown hero farewell.

“Hopefully now, when we ask them about the Korean War,” said Colleen Chesmore, the mother of a fourth-grader, “they’ll remember that freedom is not free.”