Seventy-one years to the day that he went missing in action during the Korean War, Army Cpl. Kenneth R. Foreman will be laid to rest Thursday, Dec. 2 at Mount Orab Cemetery.
The Mount Orab native with Highland County ties will receive full military honors from Army service members based in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Foreman was killed at the age of 19 during the Korean War’s brutal Battle of Chosin Reservoir that took place between Nov. 22 and Dec. 13 of 1950. He was reported missing in action Dec. 2, 1950, as a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.
During a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un on June 12, 2018, Trump negotiated for the return of American military personnel killed in the Korean War.
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DRPK) turned over 55 boxes carrying the remains of American service members on July 27, 2018.
The remains were received by the DPAA on Aug. 1, 2018, to begin the process of identification at the agency’s laboratory.
Foreman’s remains were identified in the summer of this year, and his family was notified in July.
“My mother and I both went to a POW/MIA conference and gave DNA samples, and they matched the samples up with the remains,” said Danny Bolender, Foreman’s nephew.
Of the remains finally coming home, Walt Willey, a Hillsboro resident and first cousin to Foreman, said, “I think it’s a great thing. I just wish his mother [the late Thelma Foreman] and sister could have been alive to see it. With tears in her eyes, she looked at me one time and said, ‘I just never knew what happened to him. Every night you go to bed and you just wonder.’”
Foreman joined the Army along with several friends in 1949.
“What the military explained to us is they didn’t know China had joined forces with the Koreans because they were our ally in World War II, and the Chinese and North Koreans were dug in and attacked the U.S. forces,” said Bolender. “The Marines and the Army were both there and were attacked and overpowered. There was devastating loss – it was a devastating battle for the U.S.”
Foreman’s sister and Bolender’s mother, JoAnne Bolender, who passed away in 2014, never gave up on efforts to find the remains. “She wrote letters over the years – her and my grandmother – inquiring to the military and just trying to keep that in front of the military and the government to get the remains of the soldiers home,” said Bolender.
“I know my mother went from hopes that possibly he was still alive over there until her later years realizing that he’s not going to come home alive and still hoping that he would someday come home,” he said. “Their prayers are answered now that they have finally come home, but I just wish it would have been within my mother’s or grandmother’s lifetime.”
Foreman would have been 90, and Bolender said many of his close family members and relatives are gone.
“There is one individual who contacted us – his name is Edgar Ferguson – who actually signed up together with him,” said Bolender. “They signed up together and went to basic training together and then were separated. He’s still alive. That was a total surprise. I didn’t expect that.”
Willey said Ferguson plans to be at Thursday’s ceremony.
Foreman’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Visitation for Foreman will be held at Crosspoint Wesleyan Church in Mount Orab from 12 noon to 1 p.m. followed by the funeral service.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.