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Jun 3, 2015 9:06 PM

Remains of Exeter POW finally laid to rest


EXETER - The sound of "Taps" echoed through Exeter's cemetery Wednesday afternoon, as Army Cpl. Elmer Powers Richard was finally laid to rest, 65 years after his death.

Richard signed up for the U.S. Army in 1948, despite the fact that his parents did not want to see another son go off to war. Four of Richard's older brothers served in World War II, and even today, family members tell the stories of father Ralph Sr. checking the mail for letters, just so he knew his boys were still alive as the war raged on overseas.

Richard completed his basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey before being sent to Japan, and then Korea. Eventually, he was captured and became a prisoner of war, dying at the age of 20.

"He was just a young boy, lost in Korea," Robert "Scratch" Richard told NH1 News.

Richard's family members never gave up hope, and after many years of searching, and praying, DNA evidence linked Richard back home.

On Wednesday, a Catholic Mass celebrated Richard's life. Family priest Father Mark Dollard read a poem about the soldiers of America's "Forgotten War."

"We all roasted in the summer. In winter we damn near froze," Dollard read.

After the Mass, a ceremony was held to honor Richard. He was laid to rest in his family's plot. Siblings Jeanette McDonnell, of Exeter; Mae Cutler, of Florida; and Edward Richard, of Middleton, were surrounded by many family members.

Edward Richard, 83, a U.S. Navy veteran, stood to salute his brother, who he imagined finding, while he was serving America overseas himself.

Cutler described how she felt receiving the American flag. When presented with it, she rubbed it, as if she could touch her brother through the fabric somehow.

"It's very meaningful, the flag," Cutler said. "I am surprised and appreciative they gave us each one."

Cutler said that being able to bury her brother gives her great comfort at 87-years-old.

"There is closure," Cutler said. "We don't have to think about him being overseas. We can think about him being here, where we can come and visit."

For a copy of the obituary, click here.

Follow Kimberley Haas on Twitter @KHaasNH1.


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