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Just moments before Pfc. Ronald C. Huffman was moved from Roselawn Funeral Home to his final resting place, one of his nieces showed a letter Pfc. Huffman wrote to his parents in January 1951, about a month before he was captured by enemy forces during a battle near Saemal, South Korea.
In the letter, Huffman, 18, told his parents not to worry. “I’ll be back home some day,” he wrote. That “some day” came on Saturday, Sept. 21.
The same niece who had her uncle’s letter, showed the Aug. 13, 1953 telegram that the U.S. Army sent to her grandparents, explaining that the North Koreans had informed them that Huffman had been a prisoner of war, and that he had died while he was being held.
On the day that Huffman came home, it rained hard as members of the U.S. Army honor guard carried him from the funeral home to the hearse that took him to his final resting place. Veterans groups including the Patriot Guard, VFW Post 9696, Chapter 628 of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 957 of the Marine Corps League, The Riley-Vest Post No. 9 American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans Chapter 31.
Sgt. Kenneth Nye had accompanied Pfc. Huffman from Hawaii on his journey home. Nye joined the mourners on the hill overlooking Huffman’s grave while members of the U.S. Army honor guard fired a three-volley salute honoring Huffman and folded the flag and presented it to the Huffman family. The mourners numbered around 40 or more as the rain lightened up a little just before Pastor Casper Dalton delivered the eulogy. “I thank him from the bottom of my heart,” Dalton said. “The most we can say is, thank you Ronald for what you gave to us.”
Several veterans remained at the grave as mourners returned to their cars. Russell Patrick of Richlands, Va., served in the same unit that Huffman served in — U.S. Army 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
“I was there in 1952, but we served in the same unit,” Patrick said. “I was in Company A, but he served in Company K. I thought I should come here today and pay my respects.”
Patrick said he was among a group of Korean War veterans who were honored by the South Korean government at a ceremony at Washington, D.C., in late July. “When we were there, you would breathe out and your breath would freeze right in front of you. Any time you get a few Korean War veterans together, that’s what we talk about. That, and about the buddies we lost.”
One of those buddies was laid to rest in Mercer County on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
— Contact Bill Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org