A soldiers return: MIA in Korea since 1951, remains identified and brought home
Late Wednesday evening, May 10, U.S. Army Cpl. George A. Perreault returned home to Vermont after being reported missing in action on February 13, 1951, in the Central Corridor in South Korea.
Crowded faces filled the windows of the aircraft as the Vermont National Guard Military Funeral Honors Team performed the dignified transfer of remains, as Cpl. Perreault was welcomed home by both family and friends.
“Cpl. George Perreault has returned home to Vermont, with his family, where the Vermont National Guard is honored to participate in the arrival ceremony and interment of this American Hero,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
Perreault who was assigned to Headquarters Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, was part of Support Force 21. His unit was assigned to support Republic of Korean Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces.
On the evening of February 11, following a massive counterattack by the CPVF, the ROKA withdrew and the American units found themselves forced to follow after a sustained enemy attack. Support Force 21 was forced to abandon Hoengsong and moved toward Wonju, though Perreault never made it to Wonju with the rest of his team and was reported missing in action two days later.
Sixty-six years later, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that Perreault’s remains had been identified and would be returned home to his family.
“Corporal Perreault’s return would not be possible without the tireless efforts of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency who take great care in identifying our lost service members so they can be brought home to their families and provided the military honors they rightly deserve,” said Cray. “These efforts help fulfill our nation’s promise to the families and preserves service member’s faith, that no comrade will be left behind.”
On May 13, Cpl. Perreault was laid to rest next to his parents at Saint Francis Xavier Cemetery in Winooski. The service was followed by a ceremony at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1767, in which the family was presented with Cpl. Perreault’s Purple Heart Medal, the Vermont Veterans Medal and the Vermont Distinguished Service Medal.
“We can’t thank everyone who has been involved, starting with the Department of Defense with actually finding and identifying the remains to the Vermont National Guard, we really appreciate all of your efforts,” said Karen O’Brien, the niece of Cpl. Perreault. “We appreciate the efforts of everyone to show up for this and to make this a memorial that we will certainly never forget, we feel like we’ve done honor to our Uncle George.”