New Mexico woman wants great uncle’s remains from WWII returned home

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexican woman said her great uncle has been missing since 1942 after being a part of the Bataan Death March. As we start Memorial Day weekend, she just wants her great uncle’s remains returned back home.

Jennifer Russell said she had tried many times to contact the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to find out where her great uncle’s remains are, but failed. So now, she’s suing.

“Whenever I get blue and down hearted, I start to reminisce, our vacations together, the shows we went to on Friday nights. You, dad, Hugh, and some girlfriend I used to go with,” read Russell from a letter sent from her great uncle.

That would be the very last letter David Hansen would send his mother from World War II.

“In November of 1941, he was sent, via the USS Coolidge, from San Francisco to Manila, Philippines,” said Russell. “He was forced marched, which is infamously known as the Bataan Death March to a place called Camp O’Donnell, he was there for about a month,” she continued.

Through her research, Russell said her great uncle suffered with poor living conditions that ended in his death.

“Many of the men were dying, and sometimes at a rate of 200 per day, and David was one of the casualties,” she said.

Since then, she and her family still don’t know what happened to him. After multiple attempts at contacting the DPAA to bring him back home, she’s taking matters into her own hands. On Thursday, she and six other families filed a lawsuit against the DPAA.

“I know which grave he’s in, but they won’t go down and identify them and exume them, identify, and repatriate them,” said Russell.

KRQE News 13 reached out to the DPAA for comment, but didn’t hear back. At the end of the day, Russell knows bringing her great uncle home would bring closure to her family.

“Don’t worry too much. You and dad have given me such wonderful things to remember, that I just have to get back. You’re a good solider mom, keep your chin up and God bless you. So long and love Dave,” Russell read from the letter.

David Hansen is still listed as a POW/MIA. Russell said his mother kept trying to find out what happened to her son until she died in the 1970s.

The Bataan Death March marked its 75th anniversary in April when American and Filipino troops surrendered to Japanese troops, and were forced to march 65 miles and live in horrendous conditions.

Jennifer Russell said if she does ever get her great uncle’s remains, she will bury him at the Wood National Cemetery in Wisconsin where he was born.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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