Almost 10 years younger, Whelihan said he always looked up to his older cousin
“We were real close,” Whelihan said. “I didn’t want him to go. I gave him a big hug and a kiss, and I told him to be safe now. … He said he would.”
Hauterman’s medical platoon was part of a 3,000-soldier combat team in North Korea that had been ordered to occupy the east side of the Chosin River in November 1950. The unit battled the Chinese People’s Volunteers for four days before withdrawing to a nearby Marine base.
Hauterman was reported missing in action after the bloody battle, which resulted in some 1,300 soldiers killed or captured.
After the medic didn’t appear on periodic lists of prisoners of war, and no returning American POWs reported seeing him as a prisoner, the Army declared Hauterman dead.
This is important
A year after the Korean War ended, a set of remains were recovered from the East Chosin Reservoir and were sent for identification to a U.S. military facility in Japan in 1954. Unable to put a name to the remains, they were sen
t to the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu in 1955.
Whelihan said he tried for years to find his missing cousin and made trips to Washington, D.C., to search for records and helped the Pentagon get the DNA it needed to make a match. In the end, it was an X-ray chart and dental records attached to Hauterman’s military file that made that connection through the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
More than 7,750 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War, according to the agency.
Hundreds of veterans are expected to answer the call from Hauterman’s family to come to Holyoke and help lay him to rest alongside his parents and sister. The veterans have also been called to celebrate his sacrifice as the military presents his relatives with his Purple Heart.
“We never forget our fallen,” said Brian Willette, an Afghanistan veteran and commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart chapter in Holyoke. “For us, it’s like bringing home a brother. He is a brother. His loss in December 1950 is just as important as if he was lost this week. When one comes home, it’s a great thing. It’s closure for the family.”