Korean War veteran's remains to return home nearly 70 years after he went missing
By BECKY VARGO | The Grand Haven Tribune | Published: October 8, 2019
GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (Tribune News Service) — It’s been almost 70 years since 23-year-old Sgt. David Alexander Feriend went missing in Korea while serving with the U.S. Army at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.
On Friday, Feriend’s younger sister — Ferrysburg, Michigan, resident Irene Arbogast — will finally welcome her late brother back home.
The remains are being flown to Gerald R. Ford International Airport where they will be turned over to the family with a full military ceremony.
A parade of Patriot Riders and Michigan State Police will then escort Feriend’s coffin to a Traverse City area funeral home, and then to his final resting place at the Evergreen Cemetery in Kingsley, according to Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Taylor.
The last couple of weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions, Arbogast said Monday as she made a lifting and rolling motion with her hands.
In mid-September, the 85-year-old Ferrysburg resident received a call from U.S. Army officials saying they had some information on her brother and would like to meet with her in person.
Sept. 26 was the day that Arbogast, the older of two remaining siblings, learned that her older brother’s remains had been located and identified.
“I was upset. I didn’t say anything,” she said. “I tried to absorb everything they were telling me.”
“You cried a lot,” added her daughter, Terri Start. “Then you were kind of numb.”
Start said the Army personnel were at her mother’s home for four hours, presenting Arbogast with the medals Feriend earned and going over the materials gathered in the effort to identify the remains.
Feriend’s remains were in a collection of 55 boxes turned over to the U.S. following a presidential summit held in June 2018. Based on the location where the remains were found and using saliva samples from two of Arbogast’s siblings, a DNA analysis confirmed that the remains were Feriend.
Even though there’s a marker for her brother at the cemetery, Arbogast said there’s never been a funeral service.
“My parents always thought that he was still alive — possibly in a Russian prison based on a photo they saw,” Arbogast said.
Charles and Ida Feriend thought they recognized their son in the photo, but that turned out not to be true, Arbogast said.
Still, “they always had high hopes that they would find him,” she said. “They hung on to that thought all those years.”
The Feriend family was living in Fife Lake when they received notification that their son was missing.
Irene said the local storeowner’s son came over with the telegram.
“He said, ‘I’d rather cut my arm off than to give you this letter,’ ” Irene recalled.
Feriend went missing on Dec. 6, 1950.
That’s when Arbogast’s parents started writing letters and working to determine what happened to their son.
Three years later, David Feriend was officially pronounced dead, although his body had not been recovered.
Over the next several years (in the mid-to-late 1960s), the missing man’s siblings moved to the Spring Lake area, looking for work. They eventually talked their parents into moving there too, Arbogast said.
And the letter writing continued.
Ida died in 1975, and Charles died in 1981. Arbogast’s brothers, Howard, Loyd (Pat) and Ray are also dead.
Only Arbogast and her sister, Doris, were left to learn what happened.
David Feriend, who had joined the Army at age 17 toward the end of World War II, went back into the military when he couldn’t find work.
“He didn’t want to be a burden on his family, so he told dad he was going to re-up,” Arbogast said.
Later on, Arbogast remembered a letter to the family that spoke of the awful conflict.
“Pops, I don’t think I’ll see another Christmas,” the sergeant wrote.
Feriend was in Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. He went missing when enemy attacked his unit in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Battle at Chosin Reservoir lasted 17 days in freezing weather. According to an official report, Feriend was last seen driving a 2.5 ton 6-by-6 truck loaded with wounded and headed toward an evacuation area.
According to an obituary released by Covell Funeral Home, David was born to Charles and Ida (Newmarch) Feriend on May 29, 1927. One of six children, David’s sister Irene remembers him as a loving brother and a good son. He was helpful to his mom and dad by pitching in around the house and helping his dad with his work as a lumberjack. David attended Fife Lake High School, but joined the Army just short of graduation. He loved serving with the Army and volunteered for Airborne Training, where he earned his Parachute Wings.
Feriend’s remains are scheduled to arrive at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids at 9 p.m. Friday. Visitation is at Covell Funeral Home on Sunday, Oct. 13, beginning at 11:30 a.m. A committal service with full military honors will follow at 1 p.m. at Evergreen Cemetery in Kingsley.
Memorial contributions are welcomed in honor of Feriend to VFW Post 2326 in Grand Haven.
Feriend would have been 92 years old.