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A West Virginia woman’s quest to find the remains of a Korean War soldier she never met

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HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. – The Korean War often gets overlooked in our nation’s history. M*A*S*H, a television series that followed a team of doctors and support staff stationed in South Korea, was the most famous representation of the Korean War. But, the war is still often referred to as “The Forgotten War” because it didn’t get as much media attention in the United States as World War II and the Vietnam War.

The three-year war killed 36,574 U.S. troops–many of whom were never brought home to be laid to rest. The US and Korea had a joint search for remains for a decade when the Pentagon suspended the efforts in 2005, saying that the North Korean government was creating a dangerous environment for American recovery teams.

U.S. Army Cpl. Jackey D. Blosser

However, last July, Kim Jung-Un sent 55 boxes back to the United States, which contained the remains of U.S. troops as a result of a meeting with President Trump. One of the soldiers was Army Corporal Jackey Blosser from Randolph County, West Virginia. 

The discovery of his body was a relief to his family, who never gave up looking for him. Betty Roberts, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., is Blosser’s niece. Despite the fact that she never met her uncle, she’s been searching for him since 1999. 

“I was thinking that it was going to be something fairly simple, and I found that it was very frustrating,” said Roberts, “At times, it was sad, because I didn’t believe we were going to find him.”

The war was fought 70 years ago in 1950, just five years after the United States set off atomic bombs in Japan. The bombs caused Japan to surrender to the Allies, ending World War II, and starting the Cold War

Korea, which was under Japanese control, was split in half and given to the United States and the Soviet Union as part of Japan’s surrender. South Korea, under the United States leadership, developed its own democracy, while North Korea developed its own communist government under Soviet Union leadership.

When North and South Korea began fighting, the United States took the side of South Korea to discourage the spread of communism, and China later got involved when they became worried about their own border security, among other reasons

This map of the Chosin Reservoir depicts Blosser’s route and where he potentially passed.
Source: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

China attacked American troops in North Korea in the infamous Battle of Chosin Reservoir, and many U.S. soldiers died, including Blosser. 

A letter written by a survivor of Blosser’s division described the conditions of the battle. He said that temperatures at the time were between -24 and -40 degrees with a wind chill factor of -72 to -75. 

“I cut a hole in my mittens for my trigger finger and my finger froze to my weapon, I pulled the skin off my finger to free it from the weapon…It was not possible for one to relax for a moment or move around freely. Some men froze to death in their foxholes…It was said we were in hell when it froze over and we believed that to be a true description.”

“A Week of Eternity,” letter written by a survivor in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

Click here to read “A Week of Eternity”

Roberts said that her family didn’t talk much about Blosser, so finding out more about him was difficult. Blosser was one of 14 siblings. Only one, a sister, is still alive.

Photo courtesy Betty Roberts

“He’s just a piece of information that maybe each cousin may have,” Roberts said, “One of them is when my older cousin says she remembers how sad my grandmother was and how she expected him to come home. That’s her memories of Jack and she doesn’t really remember much about him. Another cousin will tell you that there were items that were given to my grandmother, and I have letters that my grandmother wrote to the military several times about not only finding Jack but sending his possessions to her.”

But overall, the family is looking forward to laying Jackey Blosser to rest. 

“This is just phenomenal like I said it’s a happy story,” said Roberts, “Most of the tears and pain and everything are gone, so this is just going to be a really exciting time for the family.”

Blosser is scheduled to be buried at the West Virginia National Cemetery, near Grafton, in April.

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