Medal of Honor recipient’s remains return home

| April 9, 2013 | 0 Comments

Staff Sgt. Amber Robinson
U.S. Army-Pacific Public Affairs

HONOLULU — At the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu National Memorial of the Pacific, here, the name of a warrior whose bravery and sacrifice earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor is listed.

Although this brave man’s legacy lives on, his remains were thought to be lost forever on the Korean battlefield.

Lt. Col. Don Carlos Faith Jr. will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, April 17, after being listed as MIA for 63 years. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army-Pacific Public Affairs)

Lt. Col. Don Carlos Faith Jr. will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, April 17, after being listed as MIA for 63 years. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army-Pacific Public Affairs)

After 63 years listed as Missing in Action, Lt. Col. Don Carlos Faith Jr. will return home for burial at Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) Memorial Chapel, April 17.

Lt. Col. Timothy Miller, an officer assigned to U.S. Army-Pacific Headquarters, will escort Faith’s remains to Arlington National Cemetery.

Faith was killed in action in the Korean War, and his body was not recovered until just recently by Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC).

He was awarded the Medal of Honor for courage in five days of bloody fighting near Hagaru-ri in the Chosin Reservoir campaign of 1950. He was also a veteran of World War II and completed five combat tours.

Faith was born Aug. 26, 1918, in Washington, Ind., to Brig. Gen. Don Carlos Faith and Katherine Reinsel Faith. After several rejected attempts to join the military due to medical issues, Faith was finally accepted and commissioned Feb. 26, 1942.

He served with the 82nd Airborne Division for most of World War II and jumped with the “All Americans” on each of their combat jumps. At the war’s end, he had attained two Bronze stars and the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Soon thereafter, Faith became the battalion commander for 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, with the 7th Division in Japan. It was from this position that he would enter the Korean War and show his raw courage and shrewd initiative as a commander.

His dedication to the mission during this time has inspired many commanders over the years.

“It’s been said that it’s pretty easy to lead when it’s sunny out and the decision is a yes or no decision, but Lt. Col. Faith did not have some of those easy options,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Beasley, battalion commander, USARPAC Headquarters, who has been personally influenced in his career by Faith’s legacy.

Beasley was first introduced to Faith’s story as an Army captain when he read the book “East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950,” by Roy Appleman. The book chronicles the struggles of Faith and his battalion during their time trapped east of the Chosin Reservoir during the first winter of the Korean War.

“I was struck with some of the implied decisions Lt. Col. Faith had to make under fire and found myself routinely going back to some of the passages in the book and asking myself how I would have performed, what would I have done, and would I have made the same decisions,” said Beasley.

Throughout Beasley’s military career, he has used Faith’s story for lessons about leadership under fire.

During a desperate retreat from Chinese attacks, Faith was faced with the decision to leave one company behind to provide rear protection while the rest of the 1-32nd troops retreated. This particular decision on Faith’s part stayed with Beasley for his career, to the point of incorporating it into lesson plans for ROTC cadets.

“Although (the book) doesn’t go into Lt. Col. Faith’s decision of why he chose who he chose to stay behind, I always found myself wrestling with how do you come to that decision,” Beasley said. “How do you select some men to stay behind to fight a rear guard, so the rest of the battalion can get out, knowing with a great amount of certainty that those men will be captured or killed? That is one of the questions I would pose to my cadets; that is one of those really tough decisions a leader may have to make.”

As Faith and his men retreated, Chinese fighters thwarted their every effort. The battalion had suffered huge casualties and had exhausted many of its options. In one last effort to break from relentless enemy contact, Faith took minimal supplies and turned the remainder of his men south in an attempt to link up with U.S. Marine Corps lines.

During this last attempt to save his men, Faith was mortally wounded by enemy grenade fire. Although he was given the option to be evacuated, Faith stayed with his men, giving orders until his last breath.

“One of the toughest decisions Lt. Col. Faith made was to personally lead his troops against enemy forces,” said Beasley. “He led by example from the front, and it was that decision that ultimately cost him his life.”

After Faith was killed, his body was loaded onto an Army truck for evacuation to a nearby aid station. During this transport, the truck was ambushed, and Faith’s remains disappeared during the attack.

Now, 63 years later, Faith will be laid to rest with full military honors.

“I’ve read that story so often and taught it so often that it’s almost like closure,” said Beasley. “It’s refreshing that after all these years he can come home and that we are bringing an American patriot and hero home to be buried in Arlington Cemetery.”

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