Repatriation Ceremony

Panmunjom, Korea - November 6th, 1998

Standing: Walter Cannon, Billy Haney, Tony Samora, Larry Jackson, Calvin Buckner
Kneeling: John Burns, Dan Meuse

Video by: Thomas Lucken

The Events of that Day -Billy T. Haney '98

Approximately 47 VFW members representing VFW Posts 8180, 9985, 10215, 10216, 10223 and 10317 had the honor of participating in this most meaningful ceremony.

The Liaison Officers (LNOs) followed by 10 Veterans marched into position on the West Side of building T-2. The Veterans were lined up behind the LNOs, mixed by nation. The United Nations Command, Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) Team marched into position on the East Side of building T-1. COL Kropp, UNCMAC Secretary and his party met briefly with the Korean People's Army (KPA) representatives and then placed themselves in front of the UNCMAC Team.

A five man team from the United Nations Command (UNC) Honor Guard, American, Thai and Korean Servicemen, led by a Sergeant moved into position and the North Koreans then moved in with the first transfer case. When the case was in the arms of the UNC Honor Guard a hand salute was rendered until the remains were out from between the buildings. They were then taken to the street and placed on pre-placed casket stands. Eight times this was repeated. When the nine cases had been received, COL Kropp exchanged a few words with the KPA team and the party moved out to the street with the LNOs and Veterans on the east side of the cases, and the UNCMAC Team centered on the cases.

The Honor Guard NCOIC then ordered the cases draped with the United Nations flag. These brave men fought under that flag and it is only right that they be honored with it now. A Chaplain rendered a prayer and then one by one the cases were moved to a Hospital Bus for transfer to Yongsan and onward transportation to Hawaii for identification. As each case was moved, once again a salute was rendered - nine salutes for nine servicemen who made the supreme sacrifice. About sixty minutes, on a very beautiful day in Panmunjom, the DMZ between North and South Korea. If you could have only been there, you would have experienced sixty very moving and meaningful minutes.

We were transported back to Camp Bonifas and had lunch at the dining facility. You could see and feel something very special in the air that day and if you looked around the room, you could see faces that just a few minutes before had tears in their eyes. On the buses back to Yongsan, there was total silence. We were there, proudly wearing our VFW hats to honor our fallen Comrades.

All who participated felt they had been part of something very special and were moved by this simple, but very important ceremony. Hopefully, it will allow closure to nine families, who will now finally know the fate of their loved ones.