- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

EXETER, N.H. (AP) - The remains of a New Hampshire soldier who died after being wounded and taken prisoner during the Korean War returned Monday to his hometown of Exeter for burial with full military honors.

The remains of Army Cpl. Elmer Richard - identified through his brother’s DNA - arrived at the Brewitt Funeral Home in the rain as a group of Patriot Guard riders stood nearby. The hearse was escorted by state and Exeter police, and a military honor guard carried the flag-draped casket into the funeral home.

A church service and burial will be Wednesday on what would have been his 85th birthday.

In late November 1950, Richard was part of an anti-aircraft artillery unit fighting on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. On Nov. 29, 1950, elements of the unit were overwhelmed by Chinese fighters and on Dec. 2, Richard was reported missing in action.

In late 1953, during a prisoner of war exchange, a U.S. service member told authorities Richard was captured and died in mid-December 1950 from battle wounds and dysentery. Richard was one of 12 Korean War POWs from New Hampshire to be posthumously awarded a Purple Heart five years ago.

Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea turned over to the U.S. 208 boxes of human remains believed to contain more than 400 U.S. servicemen, and North Korean documents indicated some of the remains were from the area where Richard was believed to have died. On Oct. 5, 2000, a second burial site was excavated where U.S. servicemen were believed to have been buried after the Korean War.

Scientists used DNA to confirm the identity of Richard’s remains.

His sister, Jeannette McDonnell, said their mother died in 1993 after decades trying to learn her son’s fate. McDonnell said it was just before last Christmas when she received a phone call regarding her brother.

She told the Portsmouth Herald she had already seen four brothers fight in World War II, and when Elmer announced he would be volunteering for the Korean effort, the family was firmly against it.

“We’d already been through four years of worrying - we just thought we couldn’t take it anymore,” McDonnell said.

In a letter dated Nov. 17, 1953, McDonnell and her family first received word that Richard had possibly died due to wounds and dysentery, and an investigation would ensue.

“My mother had great faith in Elmer and in the war effort . this would be closure for her,” McDonnell said.

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