FULTON, NY – An identified Korean War casualty has found his final resting place, in his hometown of Fulton 66 years after his death.
Army Cpl. Joseph Trepasso, 20, served for Company L, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division in the Korean War, on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea.
According to a press release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Trepasso was declared missing in action as a result of a battle on December 12, 1950 when “Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) attacked the regiment and forced the unit to withdraw south to the Pungnyuri Inlet. Many soldiers became surrounded and attempted to escape and evade the enemy, but were captured and marched to POW camps.”
Trepasso’s status was actively changed by a military review board to deceased in 1951 after the army received information that Trepasso was killed in action on December 1, 1950.
Today (Nov. 1), 66 years since his death, Cpl. Joseph Trepasso was welcomed back to his hometown of Fulton, by a veteran motorcade with dozens of people lining the streets in his honor throughout the entire route beginning in Syracuse.
“We are blessed to have him home, may he rest in peace with his family,” said Cpl. Trepasso’s niece, Susan Kerrigan.
The motorcade led Trepasso and his family from Syracuse to Foster Funeral Home in Fulton, where a family service was held. Calling hours will be held for family and friends from 4 – 6 p.m. at Foster Funeral Home on Friday, November 4 along with a graveside burial on Saturday, November 5 at 11 a.m. with full military honors.
Kerrigan said that Cpl. Joseph Trepasso was survived by 13 nieces and nephews and several great-nieces and great-nephews, all of whom have returned to Fulton for their uncle’s homecoming from areas as far as Florida, Tennessee, Massachusetts and several locations throughout New York State.
The Fulton Veterans’ Council handed out American flags for those lining the streets to honor a local hero.
“It is important to me that we honor our fallen heroes and show support to their loved ones. I am glad that Cpl. Joseph Trepasso’s family and friends finally get the closure they deserve. It is breathtaking and overwhelming to see the streets filled to honor this hero. It is important for a community to come together to show their respect and give thanks for our local veterans services and their families sacrifices,” said Fulton Veterans’ Council President, Garry Visconti.
The Fulton Veterans Council, partnered with the Oswego County Veterans Service Agency, and numerous local law enforcement, first responder, military and veterans agencies came together to make Cpl. Trepasso’s homecoming grand.
“The support of local law enforcement agencies and area fire departments is greatly appreciated. It is truly a humbling site that makes me proud to be a part of this community,” Visconti said.
Trepasso’s body was successfully discovered and identified in 2001 during a joint recovery operation by a U.S. and Korean People’s Army Recovery Team in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir based on information from two Korean witnesses.
Trepasso was one of possibly seven human remains found during the excavation and through scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory using mitochondrial DNA, with results that matched to a brother and nephew, as well as anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence, Trepasso was officially identified as the 20-year-old Fulton native killed in action.
“I’m glad to have him finally back home. Everyone knows of him and his family, we have read about him for a long time. I hope this can bring some comfort to his family to have him home after all this time,” said Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr.
With this homecoming, Trepasso became one less person on the list of currently 7,786 Americans that remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.
“Our community has come together to share our love and gratitude for Cpl. Trepasso’s service to our country. The Korean War in which Joe fought is often referred to as “the forgotten war” but for 65 years, Cpl. Trepasso was never forgotten by his family nor friends and now, he is finally home,” said Donna Kestner, director of the Oswego County Veterans Service Agency.
With this homecoming, a local hero is finally welcomed home.