Wisconsin soldier's body to be returned home after 62 years
APPLETON -- For six decades, an Appleton family has mourned the loss of a fallen soldier -- without a body to lay to rest. Now, a chance discovery by a farmer, has given them closure.
Private first class Arthur Hopfensperger's family had just a name on a plaque serving as a memorial of their loved one -- no grave site, and no place to lay flowers.
Last week, Hopfensperger's cousin Elayne Lastofka got the call she had been waiting for for 62 years! Hopfensperger's remains had been in a lab in Hawaii for two years after being found in North Korea.
Hopfensperger was deployed right after high school. He died in 1950, shortly after his service began.
"I heard that the Chinese came over the border and it was a very fierce fight. 13 people killed in that battle," Lastofka said.
Six decades later -- nothing. Then, two years ago, Hopfensperger's body was found by chance.
"This North Korean farmer was digging for some earth and he discovered the bones, and he notified the government and then they notified our government," Lastofka said.
Lastofka said the family is planning a graveside service at Highland Memorial Park. The family says they're happy their loved one will finally be laid to rest in Appleton, and hope their plight draws awareness to the forgotten war.
"It was the ultimate sacrifice on our part. When you give a person of your family to the government and he's killed in war -- very difficult," Lastofka said.
Family members expect the remains will be flown from Hawaii to Wisconsin in the coming weeks.