Home at last: Korean War veteran's remains return to American soil
November 21, 2012
SENECA FALLS, N.Y. -- A Delta Air Lines jet touched down Nov. 6 at Syracuse International Airport, marking an end to the saga of one Soldier's journey that began with his enlistment in the Army in 1948, took him to war in the Korean Peninsula, and ended with long-awaited closure for his Family.
Soldiers from C Company, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), rendered honors as the flag-draped casket bearing his remains emerged from the jet, now parked on the tarmac, in a plane-side ceremony.
Pfc. Elmer C. Kidd, a native of Seneca Falls, was assigned to the Heavy Mortar Company of the 31st Regimental Combat Team in late November 1950, according to the Joint Prisoners of War / Missing in Action Accounting Command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.
Kidd's unit had been deployed to Korea and engaged an enemy force that was immensely greater in numbers at an area east of the Chosin Reservoir near Sinhung-Ri, South Hamyong Province, North Korea.
On Nov. 29, 1950, what remained of his unit aligned with the remnants of the 31st RCT, which historically went to be known as Task Force Faith, named for Lt. Col. Don Faith, then commander of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment.
According to the joint accounting command, Kidd was reported missing in action the day after his unit fought furiously and was forced to withdraw, seeking to establish more readily defendable positions near Hagaru-Ri, south of the reservoir.
A military review board held in 1956 determined that Kidd likely did not survive the withdrawal and therefore changed his status to presumed dead.
He was promoted to the rank of corporal while on MIA status.
Kidd's location remained a mystery to his Family for more than 60 years, until Sgt. 1st Class DeWayne Beasley, the appointed casualty assistance officer, reached out to them. Beasley serves as platoon sergeant with C Company, 2-87 Infantry.
"I received the call from the CAO in Hawaii on Oct. 30 that (Cpl. Kidd) would be here on (Nov. 6)," he said.
Beasley's job as a CAO is a complex and sensitive one, encompassing many duties that are all critical in bringing home Soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty. He knew the phone call was just the beginning.
"From there I had to notify the Family, give them the times and dates as well as to notify the Honor Guard and the Soldier's unit," Beasley said. "I also had to take care of all of the arrangements, making sure they fulfill the Family's wishes, answer any questions they may have and act as the liaison between the Family and the Army."
Kidd was among numerous service members whose remains were turned over to the United Nations Command by the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea, according to the joint accounting command.
The funeral service for Kidd was held Nov. 9 at the Sanderson-Moore Funeral Home in Seneca Falls. Maj. Edward Sedlock Jr., 2-87 Infantry executive officer, presented Kidd's Family with a dress uniform, known as the Army Service Uniform, complete with corporal chevrons and a Purple Heart.
The uniform was later placed on Kidd's remains, shortly before his casket was closed and the American flag was draped over it.
The honor guard then moved him to the hearse that would carry him on the last move to his final resting place.
"He would have wanted to be buried in his uniform," Sedlock said.
The motorcade that escorted the hearse and the Family through the streets of Seneca Falls consisted of law enforcement officials, Patriot Guard Riders and veterans of the Korean War. Masses of residents lined the sidewalks, some waving flags, others holding handmade signs either welcoming him home or wishing his Family well. Local businesses also paid their respects.
Kidd's burial ceremony was held at the Sampson Veterans Cemetery in Romulus. Although the Family had the option of burying him at Arlington National Cemetery, they chose Sampson so they could visit him more easily.
He was buried with full military honors, rendered by the 2-87 Infantry honor guard.
Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio, a member of the New York State Senate, attended and spoke at the ceremony. He conveyed his thanks and appreciation for Kidd.
"He has taught me many things today -- courage, service to country and the real meaning of sacrifice," Nozzolio said.