Veterans



 


Family Finally Gets Official Word on Korean War Vet's Fate

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2005 -- More than a half-century after North Korean fighter jets shot down U.S. Air Force Capt. Troy "Gordie" Cope's F-86 Sabre Jet over Danong, China, his family finally has official word of what happened to him and is preparing to bury him this May.

Air Force Capt. Troy "Gordie" Cope poses on the wing of his F-86 Sabre Jet some time before the September 1952 Korean War mission on which he was last heard from. His wife's name, "Rosie." is painted on the side. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

Chris Cope, who was born too late to ever know his uncle, calls this homecoming an extraordinary example of the U.S. military's longstanding commitment to bringing its fallen servicemembers home so they can be returned to their families.

It's a promise Army Brig. Gen. W. Montague Winfield, head of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, says the nation will carry out "no matter how long it takes" or how challenging the circumstances.

In Cope's case, that took decades of keen detective work, intense political negotiations, a month-long recovery operation, and state-of-the-art identification technology -- all fueled by dogged determination.

Cope took off from Kimpo Air Base, South Korea, on Sept. 16, 1952, as part of a fighter sweep to protect other U.S. air missions across North Korea. The flight headed north toward "MiG Alley," an area near the Yalu River that separates North Korea from China.

Cope and his wingman, Capt. Karl Dittmer, encountered four MiG-15 aircraft near Yalu and engaged in a ferocious aerial dogfight. Dittmer was able to chase away several of the MiGs but lost radio and visual contact with Cope in the dense clouds.

For the next 52 years, Cope was listed as "missing in action," with U.S. efforts to get information about him from the Chinese and North Korean governments hitting a brick wall.

Chris Cope said he never knew his uncle, but grew up hearing much about him from his family, particularly his father, Air Force Maj. Carl Cope, who served as a pilot during World War II.

"They never gave up hope of finding out what happened to him," Cope told the American Forces Press Service.

Yet for many years, the family struggled with the difficulty of not knowing the missing airman's fate and wondering if they ever would. "To see what my dad and his brothers went through, I can tell you that the 'not knowing' portion is just devastating," Chris Cope said.

In 1988, the family, fearing they might never find the closure they so desperately wanted, held a memorial service in Norfolk, Ark. Now, 17 years later, the family is again making plans to honor Gordie Cope -- but this time with an actual burial at a military cemetery in Plano, Texas, on May 31.

A chance observation by an American tourist and increased cooperation between China and the United States on POW and MIA cases helped provided the break in DoD's investigation of the Cope case.

In 1995, a U.S. businessman traveling in Dandong, visited the military museum there and noticed a display that included Cope's military dog tag, as well as those of two other U.S. servicemembers. The businessman copied the information and reported it to U.S. authorities.

Again, repeated inquiries to both the Chinese and North Korean governments came up with no new information.

But four years later, analysts working for the Defense POW/MIA Personnel Office discovered documents about Cope's shootdown in archives in Podolsk, Russia. Their records search, possible through an agreement with the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs established in 1992, revealed extensive details about the case, according to Norm Kass, who directs the office's Russia division.

Included were statements and drawings by the Russian pilots flying the MiG-15s for the North Koreans and detailed reports about the ground search carried out by Russian and Chinese officials at the crash site.

Now armed with enough information to launch a recovery mission, the U.S. government went to the Chinese and got the green light to move forward.

In May 2004, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command sent a team of specialists to Dandong to excavate the site. There, they carried out a month-long mission, recovering human remains and aircraft parts at the crash site.

Chris Cope flew to China to observe the first two weeks of the mission. "This was just too significant not to be a part of," he said.

Cope said he was "elated" when the team began uncovering items they believed belonged to his uncle, including a size 8 boot heel. "There was no question in my mind that we had found Gordie's remains," he said.

But the military requires far more concrete evidence before making an official identification. They returned the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command headquarters in Hawaii in July 2004 and went to work at the command's Central Identification Laboratory, which uses state-of-the-art techniques to help determine the identity of recovered remains.

In just over three months, the lab staff was able to positively identify Gordie Cope, and Air Force officials notified the family.

Chris Cope said the resolution of his uncle's case brings tremendous relief to his family and proof that the military lives up to its commitment to make every effort to bring a missing servicemember home.

He said there's "no question" that the military went the extra measure to resolve an extremely complicated, longstanding case.

As the family plans the funeral -- to be held just one day after Memorial Day and exactly one year after Chris Cope observed the recovery operation in China -- Cope said he plans to invite four other families of missing servicemembers to attend.

"During the funeral, we want to pay tribute to them," Cope said. He's hopeful his own family's story will give them hope that their loved ones' fates will also be resolved.

"This sends a message to never lose hope," he said.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs Jerry D. Jennings led a delegation to China to thank the Chinese for their help and to explore more opportunities for the two countries to work together on POW and MIA cases. Among issued discussed were options for reviewing documents related to POW camps where Americans were held during the Korean War.

Jennings said "there's much more work to be done," but added he's confident that the just-concluded discussions "will move us forward on several cases."

 
A team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, conducts a site excavation in Dandong, China, where Air Force Capt. Troy "Gordie" Cope's remains were recovered. Courtesy photo
High resolution photo


Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War
      

The year 2003 is a noteworthy occasion, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the  Korean War.

To pay tribute to this anniversary, the ROK Government is planning a variety of events to honor the Allied Forces war veterans from all over the world, as well as from Korea. This will be also be a time for Koreans to express sincere respect and appreciation to the surviving veterans and their family members. An additional goal of the commemoration is to promote friendship and goodwill among our allies, who generously demonstrated their commitment to world peace and freedom by sending their troops to Korea 50 years ago.

The commemoration will run from June 25, 2000, to July 27, 2003. These dates will mark the 50th anniversaries of the outbreak of the war and the signing of the Armistice Agreement ending the conflict. Fifty-two commemorative events, including the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremony, will be held in conjunction with various domestic and foreign commemorative functions.

These events will pay homage to the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice in the Korean War under the United Nations flag. They will also express a profound sense of gratitude to all foreign veterans for their friendship.

We will welcome all peace and freedom-loving people of the world who believe that "Freedom is not free, but through strength comes peace with freedom." We especially welcome all Korean War veterans who wish to revisit and remember the heroic battles they fought in a faraway land.

We will wholeheartedly welcome all war veterans to Korea so that they may share the special memories and affection of Korea with each other and the Korean people. In an effort to express its sincere appreciation, the Korean government is doing its best to make all veterans' trip to Korea pleasant and memorable by providing assistance and services.

To pay tribute to this anniversary, the ROK Government is planning a variety of events to honor the Allied Forces war veterans from all over the world, as well as from Korea. The commemoration is to promote friendship and goodwill among the Korean allies, who generously demonstrated their commitment to world peace and freedom by sending their troops to Korea 50 years ago.

     The commemoration will run from June 25, 2000, to July 27, 2003. These dates will mark the 50th anniversaries of the outbreak of the war and the signing of the Armistice Agreement ending the conflict. Fifty-two commemorative events, including the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremony, will be held in conjunction with various domestic and foreign commemorative functions

Sun-Yup Paik (Army General, Ret.)
Chairman
50th Anniversary of the Korean War
Commemoration Committee

     A soldier's recount of the early Korean Conflict.

For the latest press releases on the Commemoration Activities, click here.


 

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"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of
chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!"   Patrick Henry, 1775

     The Brothers of Nam wish to declare May 1ST, beginning in 2003, as Vietnam Veteran Recognition Day. Our intent is to have a day to honor all Vietnam Veterans for their service to our country. We would like "Welcome Home" to be the slogan for this celebratory day. We feel that a day of this kind is long over due and would like others to join our cause by signing this petition. Please show your support of these neglected heroes by giving them the homecoming they deserved long ago. 

              Sign our petition today at http://www.petitiononline.com/mayday/petition.html


A Tribute to the Fist Black Marines in WWII

     My father was one of the first black Marines.  I was born at Montford Point.
This is a story that needs to get out.  There were black Marines fighting in WWII on all the famous islands.



Nam Magazine Special Offer!

      Nam Magazine tells the true stories of those who served during the Vietnam War.  We offer a perspective rarely printed--actual accounts from those who served.  The magazine contains poems written by and for veterans, interesting articles from veterans and it is not riddled with advertisements. Just go to www.nammagazine.com and click on the Subscribe link.  Once your payment is received for a subscription, we will contact you for the address of your friend or relative.  It's that simple.  


Associations
 
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic, mutual-help, war-time veterans organization. A community-service organization which now numbers nearly 3 million members -- men and women -- in nearly 15,000 American Legion Posts worldwide.
 
The American Retirees Association (ARA) is comprised of active, reserve and retired members of the Uniformed Services, male and female, across the United States. It was founded in 1984 for the exclusive purpose of addressing inequities in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA), Public Law 97-252 (Title 10 USC 1408).
 
"The decoration known as the Purple Heart (authorized to be awarded pursuant to Executive Order 11016) may only be awarded to a person who is a member of the armed forces at the time the person is killed or wounded under circumstances otherwise qualifying that person for award of the Purple Heart.".


 
As TREA grows in membership and stature, our voices grow louder in Washington, DC. The larger our numbers, the more we can accomplish in safeguarding the promised benefits we earned while serving our country.

 

 

Retiree Officers Organization

Associations
 
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic, mutual-help, war-time veterans organization. A community-service organization which now numbers nearly 3 million members -- men and women -- in nearly 15,000 American Legion Posts worldwide.
 
The American Retirees Association (ARA) is comprised of active, reserve and retired members of the Uniformed Services, male and female, across the United States. It was founded in 1984 for the exclusive purpose of addressing inequities in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA), Public Law 97-252 (Title 10 USC 1408).

"FORGOTTEN SOLDIERS OF A FORGOTTEN VICTORY
FORGOTTEN NO MORE!"

Veterans Voice

AMVETS was born in the midst of war, for it was in August 1943, with victory still two years away, that a new organization, later to be known as American Veterans of World War II, had its beginning.

Disabled American Veterans
Formed in 1920 and chartered by Congress in 1932, the million-member DAV is the official voice of America's service-connected disabled veterans -- a strong, insistent voice that represents all of America's 2.1 million disabled veterans, their families and survivors.
 
 

Organized in 1896 from Jewish Civil War Veterans, is the oldest active veteran association in the United States.

The Jewish W

To organize, promote and maintain for benevolent and charitable purposes an association of persons who have seen honorable service during the Korean
War at any time between June 25, 1950 and 31 January 1955, both dates inclusive, and of certain other persons, the particular qualifications for
membership set forth in the By-laws of the Korean War Veterans Association

 
"The decoration known as the Purple Heart (authorized to be awarded pursuant to Executive Order 11016) may only be awarded to a person who is a member of the armed forces at the time the person is killed or wounded under circumstances otherwise qualifying that person for award of the Purple Heart.".

 
As TREA grows in membership and stature, our voices grow louder in Washington, DC. The larger our numbers, the more we can accomplish in safeguarding the promised benefits we earned while serving our country.

 

 

Retiree Officers Organization FirstGov for Seniors

The unprecedented demand for services by this group is one of government's most pressing concerns in the new millennium.  An Internet website geared specifically toward seniors provides an outstanding opportunity to help meet those demands.

Veterans Affairs

Department of Veterans Affairs

 

Missing Personnel Office

the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO). The information assembled on the following pages is to assist readers in understanding the U.S. Government effort to achieve the fullest possible accounting of our missing in action -- from all wars. U.S. military and civilian personnel are at work daily in locations across the globe, seeking information from our former enemies. The information here is the result of years of painstaking analysis and intelligence reporting. Additional case-specific information, both classified and unclassified, is available to the primary next-of-kin of our missing Americans

Veterans Employment
Veterans Employment goal is to help all Veterans who served in obtaining suitable, long term, meaningful employment, or secure private business opportunities. Help with information and resources for benefits or services for the disabled.

Veterans Search
Provides online search for veterans and links to top armed forces regiments.

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 Benefits & Pay
 
 
A complete list of DFAS yearly 
pay tables from 1949 to present.
 
 

The Personal Affairs Department staff  provides advise concerning benefits that veterans may be entitled to receive from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Health

Military Health Care
Locate a military hospital, find out about health benefits, or general health information.

Medicare
If you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement or disability benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. About 3 months prior to your 65th birthday or 24th month of disability, you will be sent an Initial Enrollment Package that will contain information about Medicare, a questionnaire and your red, white and blue Medicare card. If you want both Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance).

 

 
 
 

 TRAVEL

Armed Forces Recreation Center

Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRCs) Mission Statement: Centrally-managed, U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center-operated Armed Forces Recreation Centers (Joint Services facilities) with mission to provide rest, relaxation, recreation, and sustainment for Army personnel, their families, and other members of the total Defense Force.

 

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