CONCORD, N.H. — The remains of a New Hampshire serviceman who died in a prison camp during the Korean War have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Cpl. Norman Joseph Pelletier of Berlin, who was 20 when he died, will be buried March 28 with full military honors, according to the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Pelletier was reported missing in action by the Army on Feb. 13, 1951, soon after his Headquarters Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division came under attack from the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. Pelletier, who received a Bronze Star, never reported in. Returning American prisoners later reported that Pelletier had died from malnutrition and dysentery and was buried in a prison camp in what is now North Korea.

But his family didn’t have definitive proof that he had died, an answer that wouldn’t come for another 66 years.

The first break came in 1994, when North Korea returned 208 boxes containing the remains of 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. Among them were 15 boxes of remains found in the North Hwanghae Province, where Pelletier was believed to have died.

Still, it would be another two decades before Pelletier’s remains were identified by military scientists using DNA samples from three of his brothers. Pelletier’s dog tags and a pair of broken glasses were returned to his family on Monday.


“I was stunned, absolutely stunned,” said Raymond Pelletier, a brother, who spearheaded the effort to identify the remains from his home in Hampden, Maine.

Raymond Pelletier said he remembers little about his brother, who left for the war when he was 8 and gave him a camera he still has. He later would find a box of Western novels in the family’s attic that his older brother loved to read and remembers how his brother’s death took a toll on his parents, who had prevented him from enlisting until he graduated from high school.

“I knew there was a big issue with my parents. He wanted to sign up and go into the military before he was of age. They wouldn’t allow him,” he said. “That sort of led to a lot of heartbreak in the family. My parents sort of went back to the issue of wondering if they had signed right away, maybe he would have come back.”

Raymond Pelletier admits he often doubted his brother would ever be identified. But now that he has been, he plans to do everything he can to honor his service, including trying to get a memorial at New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. He also wants to have his brother recognized at the Berlin Historical Society.

“He is finally, after 60 years, getting some of the recognition he deserves,” Raymond Pelletier said.

The Accounting Agency said 7,757 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

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