Not left behind

For most of her life, Barbara Ann “Bobbie” Broyles had only the dimmest of memories of her father, a newspaper clipping and his Medal of Honor.

Now, at long last, the family has him back.

On Wednesday, Army Lt. Col. Don Carlos Faith Jr. will be laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, more than 62 years after he was killed in Korea in a desperate battle during which he earned the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat.

“The Army doesn’t give up,” said Broyles, who has lived in Baton Rouge all but four years since 1972. “It says a lot about the armed services that they are not leaving you behind if at all possible.”

Broyles will attend along with her husband, Stephen; son, Steve; daughters Tracy and Barbara Ann; daughter-in-law, Claire, and granddaughter, Mya. Broyles’ mother, Barbara, died in 1960.

“A few people who survived the battle may be there,” Broyles said. “They have been calling me and telling me, ‘Because of your father I am alive. He got me out.’”

Faith, a native of Washington, Ind., commanded the 1st Battalion of the 32nd Infantry Regiment along the eastern shore of the Chosin Reservoir when vastly larger Chinese forces attacked on Nov. 27, 1950. When Col. Allan D. MacLean was killed, Faith became commander of the entire 31st Regimental Combat Team. He was wounded on Dec. 1 and died the next day.

His Medal of Honor citation reads, in part:

“When the enemy launched a fanatical attack against his battalion, Lt. Col. Faith unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved about directing the action. When the enemy penetrated the positions, Lt. Col. Faith personally led counterattacks to restore the position.

“During an attack by his battalion to effect a junction with another U.S. unit, Lt. Col. Faith reconnoitered the route for, and personally directed, the first elements of his command across the ice-covered reservoir and then directed the movement of his vehicles which were loaded with wounded until all of his command had passed through the enemy fire. Having completed this he crossed the reservoir himself.

“Assuming command of the force his unit had joined, he was given the mission of attacking to join friendly elements to the south. Lt. Col. Faith, although physically exhausted in the bitter cold, organized and launched an attack which was soon stopped by enemy fire. He ran forward under enemy small-arms and automatic weapons fire, got his men on their feet and personally led the fire attack as it blasted its way through the enemy ring.

“As they came to a hairpin curve, enemy fire from a roadblock again pinned the column down. Lt. Col. Faith organized a group of men and directed their attack on the enemy positions on the right flank. He then placed himself at the head of another group of men and in the face of direct enemy fire led an attack on the enemy roadblock, firing his pistol and throwing grenades.

“When he had reached a position approximately 30 yards from the roadblock he was mortally wounded, but continued to direct the attack until the roadblock was overrun. Throughout the five days of action Lt. Col. Faith gave no thought to his safety and did not spare himself. His presence each time in the position of greatest danger was an inspiration to his men. Also, the damage he personally inflicted firing from his position at the head of his men was of material assistance on several occasions.”

According to a press release by the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, a joint U.S. and North Korean team in 2004 found human remains in the area where Faith was last seen, and those remains were returned to the United States.

Scientists used mitochondrial DNA that matched Faith’s brother to identify the remains. More than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

Broyles was 4 years old when her father died.

“Think of it — 62 years after he died, he’s coming back,” she said. “The entire repatriation community … every one of those people is so respectful. We went to the laboratory in Hawaii. They had people’s remains in tiny little boxes, and you could see they were all working so diligently. There was just an air of great respect and professionalism all the way through.”

Faith will be buried next to his parents. Faith’s father, Don Carlos Faith Sr., a brigadier general who served during World Wars I and II, died in 1963, and his mother, Katherine Reinsel Faith, died in 1973. On the back of their tombstone is a commemoration of their son.

Broyles thinks it is just good fortune that a space is available for the son to be buried next to his parents.

“Given the situation in North Korea, it’s not something anyone would ever plan,” she said.