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Remains of missing Korean War vet reunited with family

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 5:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 8:14 a.m. CDT
(Lathan Goumas –
Military pallbearers transfer the remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Donald MacLean from a hearse Wednesday at Justen Funeral Home in McHenry after a procession from O’Hare International Airport. MacLean was reported missing in 1950 while serving during the Korean War, and his remains were identified earlier this year. He will be buried with full military honors at the Windridge Memorial Park Cemetery at 1 p.m. Saturday.

McHENRY – Patting the flag-draped coffin, Donna Mitchell told her twin brother to behave himself.

Cpl. Donald Victor MacLean was reunited with Mitchell – his elder by three minutes – and the rest of his family Wednesday, 63 years after he was declared missing in action during the Korean War.

“I’ve got my whole family with me, and that makes it a little easier,” Mitchell said. “But on the same hand, you know you can accept things the way they are. We don’t have to look no more.”

MacLean’s remains were identified this year after new technology made it possible to match him with the remains of one of about 800 unidentified servicemen buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

He arrived Wednesday at O’Hare International Airport, and accompanied by the U.S. Army, Illinois Patriot Guard, Rolling Thunder Illinois, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois State Police and McHenry police, the hearse carrying his remains looped through McHenry.

People came out of the businesses that lined Green Street south of Route 120, and students piled out of McHenry High School East Campus and Edgebrook Elementary School.

Jane Keller and Julie Hobson, two sisters born and raised in McHenry, waited on Green Street with American flags.

“He deserves the recognition, all those years,” Keller said. “People just need to [come out].”

After arriving at Justen Funeral Home, MacLean’s coffin was carried inside and Mitchell was presented with a folded black MIA/POW flag by Rolling Thunder Illinois, an organization dedicated to publicizing missing in action and prisoner-of-war issues.

Despite the somberness of the ceremony, Mitchell was smiling as she watched MacLean’s coffin get rolled away.

MacLean would have liked it all, Mitchell said, adding that he probably would have wanted to hop onto one of the motorcycles.

She plans on sharing stories of her brother with the numerous family members gathered for the burial Saturday afternoon, including the time she tried to teach him how to drive stick shift when he was on furlough.

“This one time I was taking him over to roller skating, and I had my brother’s old Buick, one of those old-time Buicks,” said Mitchell, remembering how MacLean had wanted to drive it. “I put him in there, and all of sudden, we’re ch-chug-ch-chug-ch-chug-chug. Oh, we’re going to bust this car yet. He finally parked the thing and let me drive.”

Burial with honors

The burial with full military honors will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at Windridge Memorial Park Cemetery, 7014 S. Rawson Bridge Road, Cary.

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