The remains of U.S. Army private from Hagerstown who died of malnutrition as a prisoner of war during the Korean War are scheduled to be returned home this weekend and buried in Rest Haven Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
Heren Blevins was wounded in the arm and taken prisoner in the Chosin Reservoir on Dec. 2, 1950, when elements of the 7th Infantry Division were overrun by Chinese communists.
The 19-year-old soldier was taken to a prison camp that the captives dubbed “Death Valley.” Some of his fellow prisoners of war who were repatriated after the war told military officials that Blevins died of malnutrition in January 1951.
Investigators concluded that Blevins’ body was buried in North Korea about 20 miles north of the Chosin Reservoir.
Blevins’ body remained in North Korea until the 1990s, when that country gave the United Nations 208 boxes that were said to contain the remains of U.S. servicemen who were still unaccounted for from the war.
Officials from Rest Haven Funeral Chapel are expected to arrive at Dulles International Airport at 6 a.m. Saturday to receive Blevins’ remains, funeral home owner Eric Brown said.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral chapel on Pennsylvania Avenue. Retired U.S. Army chaplain Col. Richard G. Hembrock will officiate at the funeral, and burial will be in Rest Haven Cemetery with military honors.
Those in attendance for the funeral will walk to Blevins’ burial site, and his coffin will be rolled to the plot in a specially designed carriage, Brown said. A bagpiper will also perform as the procession moves to the site, he said.
When an active duty service person is killed in the line of duty, the military appoints someone to be with the body until burial, Brown said. Arrangements have been made for the person assigned to Blevins to stay in the area until Tuesday’s funeral, he said.
“It’s really an interesting and honorable thing to do,” Brown said.