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He’s coming home: Remains of Minnesota soldier who died in Korean War finally identified

GARY, Minn. -- After more than six decades, Sgt. Arnold Andring is finally coming home. The Gary man, who fought in the Korean War and died as a prisoner of war, will be laid to rest with full military honors in April next to his mother and fathe...

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FNS Phot by Carrie Snyder Len Andring points out a photo of his brother, Sgt. Arnold Andring, whose remains were recently identified from the Korean War and will be returned for burial in late April in Mahnomen.

GARY, Minn. - After more than six decades, Sgt. Arnold Andring is finally coming home.
The Gary man, who fought in the Korean War and died as a prisoner of war, will be laid to rest with full military honors in April next to his mother and father in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Mahnomen, Minn.
Andring’s remains - found amid 208 boxes holding the commingled remains of more than 400 soldiers - were turned over by the North Koreans between 1991 and 1994.
His remains, stored at the Central Identification Laboratory-Hawaii, were recently identified by experts using DNA testing.
For Andring’s family, the news kindled a mix of long-buried sadness and relief.
“It’s the end. It’s a closure. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Lucille Gish, one of Andring’s five surviving siblings.
Len Andring said the family always wondered if it was possible to find his brother’s remains, but no one gave up hope.
Arnold Andring was born Oct. 20, 1926, on the family farm between Gary and Mahnomen.
“He wanted to be a farmer. That’s all he wanted to do. He didn’t like school,” Len said.
Rick Gish began delving into the life of his uncle Arnold in July 2011. Gish did the bulk of the background work that covers his uncle’s return to the Army, the battle in which he was captured, and how he died.
Arnold was drafted into the Army in 1945, Rick Gish said.
He was sent to Germany in 1946 to be part of the occupation and extended his service to three years. He was promoted to corporal. And he married a German woman, Hannah Anneliese “Ann” Schroeder in August 1948.
In November 1948, he was discharged from active service, then signed up for three years of Army Reserve duty.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when North Korean troops poured across the 38th parallel into South Korea.
Arnold was called back to active duty in the Army in September 1950. He left for duty the day his parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, Rick Gish said.
He entered Korea on Nov. 27, 1950 and joined L Company of the 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in early December, Gish said.
Arnold and L Company were directed to move up and support the 2nd Division’s Recon Company to protect a main supply route during the battle for Wonju, Chipyong-ni and Chaum-ni in South Korea on Feb. 13-14, 1951.
L Company was west of Chaum-ni and was surrounded on three sides, then overrun by soldiers from the 116th Division of the 39th Chinese Army on the morning of Feb. 14.
That day, L Company had 55 men killed, 34 taken prisoner (11 of whom survived to the end of the war) and seven missing in action. Second Recon had 31 killed, 11 taken prisoner (three of whom survived the war) and two missing in action, according to military records.
Arnold and others taken prisoner were marched to the Suan “Bean” camp between late March and early April 1951, Gish learned. Conditions at the camp were terrible, and the prisoners were treated cruelly. There was no warm clothing or bedding. The food was horrendous, with most men losing 50 to 100 pounds. Dysentery, pneumonia, beriberi and other diseases were common, with no medical care.
POWs died at a rate of five to 10 men a day. It was there where Arnold died sometime in April 1951. His death was reported by Patrick Quinn, who served in L Company, 38th Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division, Gish said.
Len Andring chokes up when he talks of the grief and deep depression that dogged his mother after she learned her eldest son died.
He said his parents set up a table in the corner or their house with pictures and memorabilia of Arnold. It was a small shrine to his memory.
“Mom … she never got over it, until the day she died,” Len said.
In December 1953, after the Army confirmed a Chinese report that Arnold died in the prison camp, his family held a funeral mass at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Mahnomen, Gish said.
Arnold, who was a corporal when captured, was promoted to sergeant after his death was confirmed.
Arnold’s wife left Minnesota and later remarried. She died in 2012, Rick Gish said.
Arnold’s return home will “definitely” bring a sense of closure to the family, Richard said.
Arnold is eligible for full military honors at his burial, said retired Maj. Chris Van Hofwegen, who is Minnesota’s military funeral honors coordinator.
Van Hofwegen said Arnold’s remains will be flown to Fargo’s Hector International Airport.
At the funeral, is planned for 10:30 a.m. on April 25 at St. Michael’s Church in Mahnomen.

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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