The remains of a soldier from New Hampshire who went missing during the Korean War and was later reported to have died in a prisoner of war camp were laid to rest Thursday, several months after being identified.
“It was beautiful, truly beautiful, very touching,” his niece, Carlene Hartford, said following the service in Littleton.
U.S. Army Sgt. Alfred Sidney, 23, of Littleton, was reported missing in action in May 1951 after his unit was attacked near Hangye, South Korea, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said. Two years later, a prisoner of war survivor reported that Sidney had been a POW and died in July 1951 at a camp.
After the war, unidentified remains were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, the agency said.
In 2020, the agency disinterred some of the remains and sent them to a laboratory for analysis.
Sidney’s remains were identified in August through dental and anthropological analysis, mitochondrial DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence, the agency said.
Sidney was the oldest of five children and would have turned 95 on Friday. He had three sisters and a brother.
Hartford, who never met him, said the most beautiful part of the ceremony was seeing Sidney’s one remaining sibling, Patricia Lyons, 90, in attendance, standing by his casket.
“It was touching and heartwarming and emotional to see her realize this impossible dream of him coming home,” Hartford said of her aunt.
Hartford told the Caledonian-Record earlier this year that the family got a call from the agency in March.
“They were searching for Uncle Alfred and were hoping for DNA from myself and anyone else in the family, specifically a male,” she said. “I was able to search out one of my cousins, who was the son of Alfred’s only brother, which was crucial in the process.”
Hartford also said her mother, who passed away in 2013, was instrumental in keeping family records and ancestry documents.
Sidney had been studying for a career in refrigeration at the time he was deployed to Korea. He was regarded as “everybody’s big brother, everyone’s hero,” before the war, Hartford said.
In 2010, Sidney was among 28 New Hampshire prisoners of war who died in captivity who was honored with posthumous Purple Hearts. Sixteen of the soldiers served in World War II, and 12 served in the Korean War.
His family is planning to visit the cemetery in Hawaii next month, where a rosette will be placed next to Sidney’s name to indicate that he has been accounted for.