No Soldier left behind: Return of Korean War vet brings closure to family, friends
October 7, 2011
EL PASO, Texas, Oct. 7, 2011 -- The family of Cpl. Eduardo Pedregon, a Korean War veteran, received news of his missing in action in 1950, and since then they have been awaiting for his return.
Eduardo enlisted in the Army at the age of 17 in 1948 with his mother's consent and was assigned to Heavy Mortar Company, 31st Infantry Regiment.
"My brother was declared missing the thirtieth of November, 1950," said Roberto, Eduardo's older brother. "My mother got word from the Army that he had been missing in action. My brother sent a letter to my mom that was dated September of that same year, about a month before. In the letter he told my mother that this was probably going to be the last letter because the fire was getting pretty thick -- period -- that's the last word and the last thing I knew about him."
"We just hoped that he would be captured instead of being killed. Well, as you know now, time passed. Sixty-one years later, he finally came home."
Eduardo will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Va., today, but his remains arrived at the El Paso International Airport Sept. 29 in order for his hometown of San Elizario to honor him during a special memorial at San Elizario Presidio Chapel, where he was baptized as a young infant.
Hundreds of community, military, civic and political members joined the Pedregon family during a mass and continued to pay homage to the fallen native Soldier at a ceremony that was held at San Elizario Plaza after the religious service.
U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes and several other political leaders recognized Eduardo's ultimate sacrifice and valor. Reyes, who publicly thanked the Pedregon family on behalf of the country's leadership, said he entered Eduardo's story into the United States' congressional record.
"I also had a flag flown in honor of Eduardo Pedregon," said Reyes. "It's a small but sincere token of appreciation from our President and every member of the United States Congress."
Karla Sanchez, the action officer from the Fort Bliss Casualty Assistance Center assigned to the Pedregon case, said the post provided support in several areas including the color guard from 1st Armored Division's 212th Fires Brigade and the 1st AD band to ensure the complete rendering of military honors.
Capt. Steve Yi, company commander of 532nd Signal Company, 1st Brigade, 1st AD, was the casualty officer who helped the family get through the process and assisted them in obtaining the resources they are authorized according to Army regulation, said Sanchez.
"It was very honoring just to see [the family's] reaction," said Sanchez. "They're grateful and they're at peace now."
Former U.S. Representative for Texas' 23rd congressional district, Ciro Rodriguez, said the return of Eduardo after more than six decades serves to exemplify that America never gives up on seeking out a lost service member.
"No Soldier is left behind. Eduardo [is] truly an indication, a reaffirmation of the faith and the commitment; that solemn oath of this nation to its Soldiers," said Rodriguez.