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Sailor And Soldier to Be Repatriated From Korea

Press Release – New Zealand Defence Force

Sailor And Soldier to Be Repatriated From Korea The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will begin repatriating next week a sailor and soldier buried in South Korea. This is the fourth tranche of project Te Auraki (The Return), under which the NZDF is …Sailor And Soldier to Be Repatriated From Korea

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will begin repatriating next week a sailor and soldier buried in South Korea.

This is the fourth tranche of project Te Auraki (The Return), under which the NZDF is bringing home personnel and dependants buried overseas after January 1955, following a change in government policy.

Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) Telegraphist Peter James Mollison and New Zealand Army Driver Herbert Lester Humm will be disinterred from the United Nations Military Cemetery (UNMC) in Tanggok, Busan.

Telegraphist Mollison, 19, from Whakatane, had been posted to HMNZS Royalist. He died in 1957 of influenzal meningitis at the 121st Evacuation Hospital, US Army, in Inchon.

Driver Humm, 24, from Christchurch, was posted to 10 Transport Company, Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC). He died from injuries after the vehicle he was a passenger in crashed.

Between 1955 and 1971 NZDF personnel who died while serving abroad were buried in overseas cemeteries unless their families paid the repatriation costs.

Te Auraki project manager Royal New Zealand Air Force Group Captain Carl Nixon said the NZDF was committed to making the process as dignified and respectful as possible for the families of those being repatriated.

“This project is about putting right the inequalities and inconsistencies of the past, so we will be treating everyone the same, regardless of wealth, rank or cause of death,” Group Captain Nixon said.

“We are grateful to the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Commission for the United Nations Memorial Cemetery (CUNMCK) for caring for the resting places of our personnel for more than 60 years.”

A disinterment team is being deployed, comprising bioarchaeologists and forensic anthropologists, as well as NZDF odontologists (dentists) assisting with the identification of the remains. The team will be led by an NZDF doctor.

Once the personnel have been identified, Royal New Zealand Navy and New Zealand Army personnel will conduct a continuous vigil around the caskets until the remains are handed over to their families in New Zealand.

Before the exhumations begin, kaumātua and an NZDF chaplain will lead blessing ceremonies at the grave sites, which will include waiata and prayers.

The remains of the fallen personnel will be returned to their families at an arrival ceremony at RNZAF Base Auckland at Whenuapai on 7 October.

This follows the repatriation of three NZDF personnel from Fiji and American Samoa in May, 27 personnel and one dependant from Malaysia and Singapore in August, and two personnel from the United Kingdom this month.

ENDS

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