BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Roy Fink left Buffalo some 66 years ago, after a short visit on leave from the U.S. Army.
Months later, he would be killed while fighting in North Korea, but his remains weren’t recovered until 2001. And he wasn’t identified until just eight weeks ago. On Wednesday, Fink’s remains will return to his hometown, and to his oldest living relative, who never thought the day would come.
Paul DeFrain was just an infant in 1950 when Fink stopped by the family home on Townsend Street.
“He was part of the Chosin Reservoir campaign, and he was specifically part of Taskforce Faith,” DeFrain said.
Eventually U.S. forces came under heavy fire by the Chinese.
“Our guys were surrounded basically, and many of them didn’t make it back,” DeFrain said.
In 1954, the war over, countries involved reached an agreement that allowed each to recover and return the dead.
The U.S launched Operation Glory to return military remains to their families for proper burial.The program was eventually discontinued, but picked back up in 1996 under an agreement reached by President Jimmy Carter.
Cpl. Fink’s remains was never among the first recovered in the 1950s, nor in the 1990s with the program’s second installment.
In fact, not until 2001, were his unidentified remains brought back to U.S. soil. And he wasn’t identified eight weeks ago, which led to the call DeFrain thought he’d never receive.
“I can say the Army never gave up,” DeFrain said. “No man left behind, and in this case, it’s proven that no man is left behind. It’s been 66 years. It was always in the foreground in my life. It wasn’t the forgotten war for me, or for my family.”
Paul has hoisted black POW/MIA flag outside his apartment complex for years, not only for his uncle, but for all the family and friends, who may never see a day like he will on Wednesday, when his uncle will finally be laid to rest.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I just wish my mother, who was his sister, and my aunt and my uncle were still alive to appreciate this day.”
Fink’s remains will arrive in Buffalo Wednesday afternoon. There will be a visitation on Thursday, and his burial, with full military honors at Forest Lawn Cemetery, on Friday.