Sons Receive Dog Tag of Father Missing in Korean War: ‘A Little Bit of Certitude’

Father's Dog Tag

Retired Army Green Beret Charles McDaniel Jr., 71, was just three-years-old when his father, Army Master Sgt. Charles Hobert McDaniel, left to fight in the Korean War with the First Cavalry Division.

He only has one memory of him that he can recall clearly, a moment he has replayed in his head for 68 years.

“I can recall … him coming home from work in Japan, and me running out to him, and him picking me up and holding me, carrying me,” he said. “That’s the only genuine memory that I can clearly go back to.”

McDaniel received a call from the Army’s casualty office a week ago at his home in Indianapolis, Indiana.

He had read in the news about the returns of Korean War troop remains from North Korea, as a result of President Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

His father, an Army medic, had gone missing there in 1950. But, he thought, with about 5,300 troop remains believed to be in North Korea, he did not think his father’s remains could be among the 55 boxes handed over.

So when the Army called him last week to tell him that a dog tag belonging to his father were among those remains, he said he was overwhelmed with emotion.

“They said, ‘We found one dog tag — and it’s your father’s,'” he said. “I sat there, and I cried for a while and took a while to compose myself.”

His brother Larry McDaniel, 70, who received the dog tag alongside him, was too young to remember his father. Their mother, 92, has “significant memory issues … But in the moment, she understands,” McDaniel Jr. said.

Their father disappeared near Usan, some 60 miles north of Pyongyang, deep in North Korean territory. The U.S. had defeated the North Korean army. Then the Chinese intervened, overrunning his father’s battalion. They lost more than 600 soldiers in one night.

Their father had also served in combat in World War II, and received a Bronze star.

The brothers say they understand their father’s remains may not be among the set of 55 boxes that were returned by the North Koreans last week. Most of the remains consist of bone fragments and pieces of uniform.

But McDaniel Jr. said, “At least we have this … . And we’re thankful for that.”

Even 68 years later, talking about the loss of his father is still difficult. He choked up while retelling the moment when the Army called him. “You’re thinking one in a 1,000 chance, you know. So, then they said, ‘We found a dog tag,’ and — I need a break.”

After he regained composure, he said, “Deep things that — because you’ve got to press back on those things — you cannot live your life with that upfront. We have to suppress that emotion.”

The brothers say they do not want to make it “political,” but say they are thankful to Trump.

“I appreciate that he got it done, you know? I mean, nobody else had in 68 years, so I’m appreciative of that,” said McDaniel Jr. “There are still a lot of folks that are waiting and wondering, and we got a little bit of certitude.”

Kristina Wong is Breitbart News’ Pentagon correspondent. Follow her on Twitter at @kristina_wong