'We waited 69 years with hope': Korean War veteran's family finally finds closure

'We waited 69 years with hope': Korean War veteran's family finally finds closure

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After 69 years of waiting and hoping, Statesville resident Glenda Hatcher may finally get some closure.

Her older brother, Cpl. Charles Henry Grubb was considered missing in action from the Korean War up until recently. Now he’s been reclassified as killed in action — and is coming home.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Grubb was identified on Aug. 27 with the help of DNA from Hatcher’s older sister Mary.

“His caseworker, when she called me … she told me that we could choose where to bring his body back to ... I would prefer West Virginia but having talked to my sister and two of my nieces they heard my mom say if it happened after she was gone that she would like him to be buried in Arlington so his body will be brought back to Arlington,” Hatcher said.

The process to bring Grubb home could take between two to three months. Hatcher believes as many family members as can make it to Arlington will be in attendance.

“But we have learned since this telephone call that my brother was not missing in action at all, he had been killed. But all these years we thought it was missing in action,” Hatcher said. “But I guess the DNA, now I don’t know about this … I guess that confirmed that he had died 69 years ago … that he had been killed in action rather than missing in action. Like I said, we didn’t know that until last week.”

Hatcher read what she believes is the last letter her brother sent their mom.

“It was mailed Oct. 31, 1950… and apparently he must have known that they were going into a fierce battle in Korea …,” she said. “He said I don’t know much to write about, but I did want to tell you that if you don’t hear from me for a while not to worry I’ll write as long as I can … as long as I am where I can mail it … so I am assuming this is the last letter my mom received from him.”

This closure is not only for her but for her late mother, who Hatcher believes always wondered about her son’s missing in action status.

“My mom died in 2001 and I know that she died wondering if his remains would ever be brought home, so that is another thing that makes me so happy,” Hatcher said.

Remembering Tubby

Hatcher remembers her brother as loving and protective of her as they grew up.

Grubb, better known to his family as “Tubby”, entered the Army in Bluefield, West Virginia, May 27, 1948 at the age of 19.

After completing basic training, Grubb was stationed at Camp Crawford near Sapporo, Japan, as a member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.

On Dec. 1, 1950, a then 21-year-old Grubb was declared missing. The news hit the family hard.

“When my sister and I was seniors in high school we were called to the office before the bus ran … and the Red Cross had left a telegram at the high school at Gilbert, West Virginia … and we didn’t have a clue why we were going to the office but when we got down there the principal and the guidance counselor told us that the Red Cross had left a telegram there,”Hatcher said.

“Well, we had not heard from Tubby for a while so Jean and I were fearful of what the telegram would say, so it seems that everyone on the bus was so quiet that day because they knew that something was wrong. So we took the telegram home and it was stating that my brother was missing in action and if there was no word from him in six months, he would be declared dead.”

Two military officers visited their home that day to talk to their mother, but they had not heard any more about his whereabouts.

A mystery for 69 years

“So we had no further word until the 28th of August (this year) when the Department of the Army called me to inform me that the DNA at a lab in Hawaii had been identified as my brother’s DNA — and this has been 69 years,” Hatcher said.

Hatcher says she has been emotional in the wake of the body’s identification.

“I was so emotional I couldn’t even talk to her (the caseworker) … she left a message and I was on the porch and I just thought it was just a telemarketer so I didn’t answer. So of course I was here by myself when I came in; she said that it was his caseworker … that she left a number for me to call her back she said that she had some information …,” Hatcher said.

“Well I have gotten one or two calls like this before and I just started sobbing, I couldn’t even talk to her … so she would just say ‘Take your time, take your time’ … but I was just so emotional all day ... other than just to call my family you know, I couldn’t even talk about it … it still just seems so unreal … that after all these years that my family will have closure but the actual closure will not come for me until we have him laid for rest in Arlington,” Hatcher said.

Hatcher credits President Donald Trump’s efforts for many families of Korean War veterans receiving closure with their loved ones remains.

“President Trump is the only president who initiated getting in Korea,” Hatcher said. “President Trump did something no other president has done and cooperated to bring our soldiers home.”

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency website indicated that “more than 7,800 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.”

Hatcher encourages others to remain hopeful that they will bring their family members home.

“[I] encourage other families not to give up hope … we waited 69 years with hope,” Hatcher said.

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