ERMINE, Ky. (WSAV) — Soldiers, family members and friends came together over the weekend to honor a Korean War veteran who was killed in action.
“It felt like we finally got the closure we had been needing,” said Fulton Combs, a nephew of Cpl. Donald L. Menken, a 3rd Infantry Division soldier who was killed in action in the Korean War. “Although many years have passed, he has never left our hearts.”
Menken served in the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment and 3rd Infantry Division, according to the Defense Visual Information Distrubution Services (DVIDS). Menken was 21 when he was reported missing in action after he was wounded by artiliary shell fragments.
Menken was guarding an outpost on June 10, 1953 when the injury occurred. He was declared killed in action the following day and non-recoverable in 1956, DVIDS said.
His remains — which were unidentified at the time — were found after the war and taken to the National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. Menken’s remains were identified on Feb. 2, using dental and anthropological anaylsis.
Soldiers assigned to the 3rd ID at Fort Stewart traveled to Ermine to honor Menken.
“He is one of our Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Brian Montgomery, commander of the 3rd Batallion., 15th IR. “It is an honor and a privilege to bring him home.”
“For Donny’s brothers in arms to have shown up and pay their respects has been the greatest thing that could have possibly happened,” Combs said. “The love that this family has been shown by the military has been something we will always appreciate.”
Menken’s siblings described him as the “apple of his mother’s eye” and said she had always hoped he would return home someday. His siblings chose the Green Acres Cemetery so Menken could finally rejoin his mother, DVIDS says.
“She never accepted Donny’s death and always hoped he would come back home,” said Marie Hinerman, the sister of Menken. “I know that if she were here, she would’ve thought this was all amazing. They brought his remains back and now he will get to lay beside his mother. I can never thank them enough.”
Menken’s former regiment performed a 21-gun salute and presented Menken’s family with the folding of the American Flag.
“I’m humbled to be part of this ceremony and happy to have been of service to the family,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Nicholas Paske, the senior enlisted advisor for the 3rd Bn., 15th IR, 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID. “He was our brother and it’s important that he is laid to rest by his brothers.”