Texas Marine’s family to get closure after more than 60 years

Posted Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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After more than 60 years of not knowing what happened to their loved one, the family of Marine Jonathan R. Posey, Jr. has closure.

Posey’s family will bury him with full military honors Monday at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Posey, of Dallas, died Dec. 2, 1950, at age 20 while assigned to Battery L, 4th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. A private first class, he was serving as an infantryman with 7th Marine Regiment at Yudam-ni in the region of the Chosin Reservoir in Korea.

“His mother and my mother were sisters,” said Judy Woodruff Roberts, 68, of Fort Worth. “I can remember the sorrow.”

The Patriot Guard Riders, a nonprofit organization that honors fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans, will accompany the family as Posey makes the journey from Thibadeau Mortuary Service in Gaithersburg, Md., to the national cemetery.

Roberts said she was 5 years old when her cousin went missing in action.

Posey’s remains were not recovered until 1954, during what became known as “Operation Glory” when the United Nations and Communist Forces exchanged remains of the war dead.

Soldiers such as Posey, who couldn’t be identified, were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

Last year, analysts from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command re-evaluated Posey’s records and determined that portions of the remains should be exhumed. Scientists identified him using dental and radiograph technology, according to a blog on SemperFiParents.com.

Posey’s status was changed from “unknown” to “accounted for” in June.

Roberts said her family had always hoped Posey was either missing in action or a prisoner of war and eventually would come home.

“They had no closure,” she said.

Closure came for Roberts’ mother and aunt when they died, she said.

“They got their closure long before we did, when they got to heaven,” she said.

When Posey left for Korea, he had been married about a year to Betty Williamson, now of Irving, Roberts said.

Williamson could not be reached for comment late Saturday.

“He was so handsome, just an all-American boy,” Roberts said.

Roberts said Posey’s brothers, Douglas Wayne Posey and Dal Posey, “wouldn’t let it rest” and tried to find him for years.

“They wanted more testing,” she said, which led to his remains being exhumed.

Terry Houlihan, Roberts’ brother-in-law, is traveling to the funeral to represent his late wife Ann Houlihan, who died in February.

“In our eyes, Johnny is still 20 years old,” he said.

He said his late wife was born 14 days after Posey and the two grew up next door to each other.

“Just like all lower-middle-income people during the Depression, family was everything,” he said. “They were all so close.”

Houlihan, of La Grange, said closure will be especially gratifying for Posey’s brothers who took his DNA to the military for testing.

“They’ve been living in limbo for most of their lives,” he said. “This is really going to be be the thing they need to close this off.”

The battle where Posey was killed was one of “the most violent small-unit fighting in the history of American warfare,” Army historian Brig. Gen. S.L.A. Marshall told the Los Angeles Times last week.

Thousands of Marines, U.S. Army and British troops were killed and wounded while causing massive casualties on the enemy during the battle, which lasted for 17 days in sub-zero weather.

The Department of Defense reports that more than 7,900 U.S. personnel remain unaccounted for and of those still missing, more than 1,000 were lost in the region of the Chosin Reservoir.

Posey received the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Korea Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Service Medal (Korea), Republic of Korea War Service Medal and Rifle Marksman Badge, according to SemperFiParents.com.

Susan McFarland, 817-390-7547 Twitter: @susanmcfarland1

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