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Ohio veteran's remains from Korean War return for burial

TOLEDO, Ohio — As a decorative cap was lowered atop Marine Cpl. Harold W. Reed’s coffin, already in his grave at Ottawa Hills Memorial Park, brother-in-law Billy Power was satisfied.

“Nobody will ever see that again. He’s finally at rest,” Mr. Power said, as the cap, depicting a large American flag alongside Corporal Reed’s picture and his dates of birth and death, disappeared from view early Saturday afternoon.

More than 100 people, many of them veterans who snapped to attention and saluted, watched as a team of six Marines carried the coffin from a hearse to the gravesite at the start of a nearly hourlong burial ceremony at the West Toledo cemetery.

That procession completed a homecoming journey that began Nov. 29, 1950, when Corporal Reed was killed in action near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea two days shy of his 24th birthday. His body, buried on the battlefield, was later retrieved and taken to Hawaii, where its lack of identification resulted in a 63-year interment in a military cemetery until it was exhumed and flown to Detroit last week.

Corporal Reed was buried with full military honors next to the graves of his mother, Mildred Reed, and sister, Millicent Power, in a family plot Mrs. Reed had bought after learning of his combat death.

After a Navy bugler in dress whites played taps, two Marine sergeants carefully folded the American flag from Corporal Reed’s coffin, with one of them presenting it to his widow, Dorothy Sobczak, who learned of his body’s return to Ohio through media coverage earlier in the week.

“I thank whoever did all this. They had a time finding me,” said Mrs. Sobczak, who added that she had remarried 10 years after Corporal Reed’s passing, but only after receiving a vision of him telling her she could.

“It was a beautiful ceremony. We couldn’t ask for a better day, and we couldn’t ask for a better service,” said Mr. Power, Corporal Reed’s brother-in-law and the spearhead of efforts to locate the body and bring it home. “This was his fifth burial. Now it’s finally over.”

Among those who watched was Danielle Davies of Toledo, who works as a nurse for Veterans Affairs and knows a patient there who vividly remembers the battle in which Corporal Reed died, even as his other memories fade.

“It was touching,” she said of the ceremony. “My son’s a Marine, too. And it’s nice they brought [Corporal Reed] home.”

“I’m so glad he’s home. It’s amazing they were able to find him and bring him home,” said Georgia Ardner of Monroe, who went to the cemetery Saturday to visit relatives’ graves and made a point of being there for Corporal Reed’s burial.

Along with the active-duty Marines participating in the ceremony, retired Marine Cpl. Don Mooney of Erie Township attended the burial in full dress uniform.

“He would have been here for me if the roles were reversed,” he said.

Also a Korean War veteran, Mr. Mooney said his battalion had been assigned to provide cover for other Marines while they retrieved as many battlefield dead as they could before North Korea’s Chinese allies overran their positions.

Some of those who had to be left behind, he recalled, were buried by blowing up a mountainside so that it would cover their bodies.

Other veterans arrived on motorcycles they had ridden a short time earlier through the streets of downtown Toledo.

“We rode in the Toledo [Memorial Day] parade, then we came here to honor this veteran,” said Doc Roth, a retired Army specialist from Wauseon.

The identification and return of Corporal Reed’s body to Ohio, Mr. Roth said, “shows a commitment on somebody’s part to repatriate those who were missing.”

Corporal Reed had been interred with several hundred unidentified Korean War veterans in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific — commonly known as the Punch Bowl — in Honolulu after being brought back from overseas.

Mr. Power, an Army veteran of Korea, began efforts to identify Corporal Reed’s body several years ago after learning of efforts to DNA-match the unknowns. It was an old chest X-ray, however, that confirmed Corporal Reed’s identity once DNA suggested a possibility, said Timothy Power, Billy’s nephew.

The nephew added that his family had no idea as to Mrs. Sobczak’s whereabouts during that effort, but she contacted them after initial Blade coverage of Corporal Reed’s body’s imminent return to Toledo.

dpatch@theblade.com

 

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