With the Fourth of July celebrated virtually last year due to the pandemic, we should take time to remember the sacrifices of those who gave us our freedom. Those fateful words written in the Declaration of Independence over 220 years ago set our country in motion. Many battles have been fought and lives lost since then to keep us free.
One of those lost was my wife’s uncle, Cpl. Donald Matney, who joined the Army at 17 back in 1949. At first, he celebrated the good life as a young soldier seeing the world while performing occupational duties in Japan. But then the North Koreans attacked. Instead of fishing and playing field games, his 24th Infantry Division was suddenly thrust into horrid battle. Within two weeks, he disappeared.
My wife and I set out in 2010 to discover what we could about her young uncle. Our journey would take us to Washington, D.C., Korea and many places in between. We contacted war veterans, the Army, other government agencies and many ordinary folks who had also lost loved ones. Slowly, carefully, we reconstructed his short life and identified an unknown soldier who might have been him. We petitioned the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to disinter a specific grave in the Punchbowl in Hawaii. And in 2017, the DPAA confirmed his identity and we reburied him beside his mother in Missouri.
So, as Memorial Day creeps upon us, remember those who have given their all to keep us free. And if you or someone you know has a loved one who is missing in action, don’t give up. There are answers.
To learn more, please read “A Korean War Odyssey” and visit http://www.tomgormley.com.