When she lays those flowers this May, she’ll know he’s actually there, she said for DeLauter after Friday’s funeral.
The day came on DeLauter’s 93rd birthday.
The remains of the Smithsburg-area man, identified in January, arrived at Washington County and the Rest Haven Funeral Home from Hawaii on a cold, windy Tuesday night.
On a warm Friday, the sun shone through a partly cloudy sky as the funeral procession from Willow Brook Seventh-Day Adventist Church near Boonsboro arrived in Cedar Lawn.
DeLauter’s sisters and daughters said the day wasn’t easy, but it was easier than Tuesday and had happy moments.
“Tuesday was a tough day because we saw him for the first time,” said Sharlene DeLauter, 74, Roy’s oldest daughter and a Smithsburg-area resident.
Margaret Carr, 90, one of DeLauter’s three sisters and only surviving sibling, said Friday is “an easier day knowing he’s going to get some rest.”
“That’s the greatest blessing,” said Evelyn Eccard, 93, the eldest of the six DeLauter children. Roy was the second oldest.
Eccard said she was glad to know Roy rested in the cemetery near the graves of her parents and younger brother Dickie. Dickie was in the Navy and died in a car accident on his way back to Norfolk after a Mother’s Day break, family members said.
Jane Kline, her sister, said she cried when she heard the bugler make taps, which reminded her of Dickie’s death.
“It just gets on my nerves,” said Kline, 91, of the Smithsburg area.
Still, Kline said, “It’s a beautiful day. … We are now closed. And I just wish my mum and dad were here to see it.”
“Nothing Less Than A Miracle”
After waiting 71 years for news of her brother and father, the family was informed in January that DeLauter’s remains had been identified using blood donated by Eccard and Carr many years earlier.
The identification of DeLauter’s remains involved scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, according to an agency press release. Anthropological and isotopic analyses, circumstantial evidence, and mitochondrial DNA and autosomal DNA analyzes were used.
“To describe Buddy’s return, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it was nothing short of a miracle,” Ret said. General Kelly McKeague, director of the accounting agency. McKeague was among the dignitaries who spoke at DeLauter’s funeral at the church.
The DeLauter family called Roy “Buddy” because his father’s name was also Roy.
When President Donald Trump met with North Korean leaders during a June 2018 summit, one of the pledges made was that North Korea would assist in the return and recovery of missing Americans in North Korea, McKeague said.
In July of this year, North Korea turned over 55 boxes said to contain the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War.
Scientists returned 80 of the 250 remains in the boxes to South Korea after determining they were of South Korean origin, McKeague said. DeLauter was one of the 170 remaining and one of 82 so far identified.
With DeLauter’s funeral on Friday, a bronze rosette will be placed at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu with his name, meaning he is responsible.
More on Sgt. Roy DeLauter’s homecoming:Remains of former Korean War MIA Sgt. Roy DeLauter comes home in Washington County
Photo gallery of Sgt. Roy DeLauter coming home:The long-missing Korean War veteran comes home in Washington County
Honoring Sgt. Roy Charles DeLauter:Smithsburg soldier missing in action in Korea is remembered
Reported missing in action
DeLauter was 21 years old when he was reported missing on December 2, 1950.
He remained listed as missing until the end of the war, but his family only learned the details of his death last year.
DeLauter’s unit was on the east side of a North Korean reservoir on November 27, 1950, “when Chinese Communist forces launched a full-scale surprise attack against US forces at the reservoir,” according to the Accounting Bureau.
Four days later, on December 1, “the numerical superiority of Chinese Communist forces forced the 7th Infantry Division’s 32nd Infantry Regiment to retreat south to friendly lines at Hagaru-ri.” DeLauter was in Company D, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment.
“Constant enemy fire and roadblocks made the retreat route extremely treacherous,” according to the accounting firm.
DeLauter was reported missing after the retreat to Hagaru-ri.
Another soldier later came forward and said he saw DeLauter being killed.
According to Sharlene DeLauter and military documents, DeLauter was injured in the right leg and was either blown up or thrown over a cliff in mountainous terrain.
The DeLauters in Smithsburg received telegrams on consecutive days in January 1950 that Roy Charles was missing from the action and their middle son, Pfc. Boyd D. DeLauter, 17, was injured in fighting in Korea on December 11.
The soldier who witnessed Roy’s death couldn’t report it until 1953 because he was captured as a prisoner of war and freed in a prisoner exchange that year, Sharlene DeLauter said. DeLauter was a corporal at the time of his death and was posthumously promoted to sergeant.
DeLauter’s name is engraved on a local Korean War memorial in Hagerstown’s North End and is listed on a war memorial in Smithsburg.
It will also feature on the Korean War Memorial Wall to be dedicated this summer in Washington, DC
“My country owes a great debt to Roy Charles DeLauter and his family,” said Colonel Hojoo Lee of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea during the memorial service. Lee said, “No greater sacrifice can be made, nor can a display of courage be seen.”