Remains of missing WNY soldier return home

Remains Of Missing Korean War Vet Repatriated

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY-- A plane arrived at the Buffalo Airport Wednesday, where a military honor guard removed a Flag draped coffin containing the remains of  Corporal Roy Fink, who in 1949, left his home on Buffalo's East Side to join the Army at age 19.

Eventually sent to fight in Korea, he went missing in action in 1950 during a bloody battle at the Chosin Reservoir.

 He was officially declared dead in 1953.

"The whole thing becomes somewhat overwhelming with emotions...there was more than one emotional moment that occurred," said Paul Defrain, 66, who was on hand to view the arrival of the remains, and who was told that he met his Uncle Roy on a brief visit when he was a baby, which of course he cannot remember. 

He says, however, that he was told about his uncle often by relatives beginning at a very young age.


"My mother used to tell me my uncle was the unknown soldier," DeFrain recalled. "And you know what? I used to think my uncle was the unknown soldier when I was a little boy!," in reference to the veteran interred at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery,

Fifteen years ago, acting on a tip, the skeletal remains of seven individuals were excavated from a sight near Fink's last known whereabouts . The remains were recovered in a joint mission by U.S. and North Korean Armies.

As Fink's oldest living relative, it was DeFrain's DNA which was used to positively identify the remains as those of his long lost uncle.

He learned of the positive match only nine weeks ago.

"I was overwhelmingly surprised...I never expected to hear that someone found our Uncles remains," DeFrain told WGRZ-TV.

DeFrain has flown a POW-MIA flag in the courtyard outside of his apartment building in the Elmwood Village for several years in honor of his uncle.

"There's that grief, of course. But there's also a great deal of happiness that Uncle Roy is now home," he said.

Corporal Fink will receive full military honors.   Calling hours will be held at the Lombardo Funeral Home in Amherst on Thursday, November 3 from 4-7 PM.

Attendees will be able to view Fink's open casket, within which they will see an empty dress uniform, adorned with the medals he earned but which he never got to wear.

"The actual remains will be placed inside the casket out of view," DeFrain said.

A funeral service will be held Friday morning at 10 o'clock at Forest Lawn Cemetery Chapel.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalists Ben Read and Dave Harrington.


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