THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — A soldier from Shelton has come home to rest, nearly 63 years after he was listed as missing in action during the Korean War.
Authorities positively identified the remains of Cpl. Harold Evans last month, after matching the DNA of some remains with DNA provided by his siblings.
Evans' remains were escorted from Honolulu to Fargo, N.D., then to his hometown of Thief River Falls, in northern Minnesota, where he was buried on Saturday with full military honors.
"It's a miracle," said his sister-in-law, AnnaRose Evans, of Bottineau, N.D. Her husband, Glenn, spent most of his life trying to recover the remains of his younger brother, she told the newspaper. Glenn Evans died in October 2011.
Harold Evans' family left the Grygla area and moved to Shelton, Wash., in 1945. He lived on a farm near Hood Canal.
Evans joined the Army a short time later and was 22 when he was sent to North Korea in 1950. A letter he wrote home on Thanksgiving Day of that year is believed to be the last communication he had with his family.
"I sure wish I was there with you but it won't be long," he wrote. "I'm getting kind of homesick now when I'm here fighting this war, but don't worry about me. I'll be all right."
The family got a glimpse of what might have happened to Evans in a letter his commanding officer, 1st Lt. Henry Trawick, wrote to Glenn Evans. In the letter, dated Oct. 27, 1952, Trawick wrote that Harold Evans drove a jeep for him, and they were worn out when they stopped near the Chosin Reservoir to relieve the Marines.
"I cannot recall seeing your brother Harold again after that day, 27 November 1950," Trawick wrote. "The following morning at 0300 hours, a Division of Chinese hit our small Battalion. We were completely surrounded and cut off from the nearest friendly outfit, the Marines, who were 12 miles south of our position."
Trawick wrote that they waited for reinforcements for three days before they were ordered out. Many died on both sides. They continued fighting for 9 miles, and were just 3 miles from reaching the Marines when their trucks were stopped, Trawick wrote. They were out of ammunition and unable to fight.
"That is as far as the trucks, loaded with wounded, ever got. The Chinese took many prisoners and treated them well. Only a very few got out. Many were dead. It was extremely cold, 40 degrees below zero, so that most of the wounded froze to death.
"I can only hope and pray your brother Harold was one of the prisoners," he wrote.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea released about 280 boxes believed to contain the remains of 350 to 400 U.S. servicemen. Some were recovered from the Chosin Reservoir area, where Evans was last seen. The Department of Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office said Evans' remains were among them.
"It means so much to have Harold home on U.S. soil," said Lori Evans, a niece who lives in Olympia. "There are so many families waiting to hear, from this war and others. In that respect, we are one of the lucky ones."
Evans' name is on the Korean War Memorial in Olympia.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton ordered flags be flown at half staff last Saturday in honor of Cpl Evans.