Minnesota soldier’s remains return from Korea 63 years laterCpl. Harold Evans is coming home this week, nearly 63 years after the Grygla, Minn., native was listed as missing in action during the Korean War. The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office last month positively identified his remains, which will be escorted from Honolulu to Fargo on Wednesday and then to Thief River Falls.
By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald
Cpl. Harold Evans is coming home this week, nearly 63 years after the Grygla, Minn., native was listed as missing in action during the Korean War.
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office last month positively identified his remains, which will be escorted from Honolulu to Fargo on Wednesday and then to Thief River Falls.
“It’s a miracle,” said his sister-in-law, AnnaRose Evans, who lives in Bottineau, N.D.
Evans will be laid to rest with full military honors at 11 a.m. Oct. 12 at Greenwood Cemetery in Thief River Falls. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2793, Thief River Falls, will provide the honor guard.
“We are so very happy to have Harold back,” said Lori Evans, a niece who lives in Olympia, Wash. “His parents, brothers and sisters waited so long to hear news. Sixty years is a long time. They are gone now. This means a great deal to the family remaining.”
AnnaRose Evans’ husband, Glenn, who died in October 2011, spent most of his life trying to recover the remains of his younger brother.
Harold and Glenn were among seven siblings, the children of Axel and Lottie Evans, who farmed in Linsell Township, near Grygla.
“It’s very exciting,” said Kay Evans-Carels, Glenn and AnnaRose Evans’ daughter. “It was pretty amazing when we found out. All of us wished our parents would have been around to see this.”
Glenn Evans was 8 years older than Harold. Like many large farm families in the 1930s, Evans-Carels said, each of the older children was assigned to look after one of the younger ones.
“My dad took care of Harold,” she said. “When he wanted to enlist, it was my dad that gave permission to enlist in the Army. I don’t think he ever forgave himself for that.”
Harold was 17 in 1945, when the family moved from Grygla to Shelton, Wash. It was there that he joined the Army just a short time later.
Harold Axel Evans, 22, was a soldier with Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, when he was sent to North Korea in 1950, shortly after the war began.
On Thanksgiving Day in 1950, Cpl. Evans wrote a letter home to his parents.
“I sure wish I was there with you but it won’t be long,” he said. “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.”
That, Kay Evans-Carels said, is believed to be the family’s last communication with him.
The family learned some of the circumstances in a letter, dated Oct. 27, 1952, written by his commanding officer, 1st. Lt. Henry Trawick to Glenn Evans:
“Your brother drove jeep for me. Driving a jeep is not a very easy or pleasant job. It is a particularly unpleasant job in a country like Korea where a driver constantly fights the bad roads, mountains and weather elements in addition to fighting the enemy that is everywhere.
“On the 25th of November, 1950, we left the Fusan Reservoir and drove for three days and nights with our rifles in our laps. We rode over mountains and roads that were indescribable. We stopped only for short cat naps and to eat cold “c” rations. After the three days of hard driving we arrived on the Chosin Reservoir to relieve the Marines. We were worn out.
“We moved into the Marine area during the early part of the night and went to bed. I cannot recall seeing your brother Harold again after that day, 27 November 1950.
“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.
“We remained in this area awaiting reinforcements for three days. When it was discovered reinforcements could not reach our positions we were ordered out.
“The area we left was littered with unburied dead, both Chinese and our own troops, for as far as the eye could see. We loaded all wounded personnel on all the trucks that could still move and started the 12 mile trip toward the Marine area.
“We fought for 9 miles. Every hill top and every valley of that 9 miles was littered with dead or wounded. Three miles from the Marines the trucks were stopped cold. We were out of ammunition and only a handful of troops able to fight were left. The Chinese had a strong road block we could not penetrate. 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.”
The family has spent the past six decades trying to bring Harold Evans home.
Hopes were raised when, between 1991 and 1994, North Korea released some 280 boxes of human remains believed to contain the remains of 350 to 400 U.S. servicemen. Some boxes indicated some of the remains were recovered from the Chosin Reservoir area, where Evans was reported missing in 1950.
According to a news release issued Sept. 30 from the Department of Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, some of those remains matched DNA samples provided by siblings Glenn Evans and Margaret Evans-Engebretson.
“Glenn never knew what happened to him. We had all but given up hope,” said AnnaRose Evans.
“The identification and return of Harold’s remains helps to bring closure to a long period of sadness and uncertainty,” said her daughter, Kay Evans-Carels.
Today, more than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.
“It means so much to have Harold home on U.S. soil,” said Lori Evans. “There are so many families waiting to hear, from this war and others. In that respect, we are one of the lucky ones.”
Call Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1110; or send email to email@example.com.