Soldier is finally coming home

Posted by : Staff Reports | On : November 9, 2011

SFC Benny Don Rogers, killed in the Korean War, will be laid to rest in Athens

From Staff Reports

SFC Benny Don Rogers is finally coming home.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced this week that the remains of the U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War for 61 years, have been identified and will be returned to his family.

Rogers will be laid to rest Saturday at Willow Springs Cemetery in Athens.

Rogers was 20 years old in November 1950 when he and almost 600 other 8th Cavalry Regiment soldiers were killed during a battle south of Unsan, North Korea.

According to the DoD, those killed were not able to be recovered at the time and were likely buried on the battlefield by Chinese or North Korean forces.

In 2000, a joint U.S. and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea team excavated a mass grave that had been discovered in Unsan. Human remains of at least five individuals and U.S. military uniforms were recovered, but they were unable to be identified given the technology of the time. In 2007, because of advances in DNA technology, scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory reanalyzed the remains. Among forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists used dental records, and mitochondrial DNA – which matched that of Rogers’ mother and nephew – in the identification of Rogers’ remains.

Services Saturday will begin at 2 p.m. at Willow Springs Baptist Church, 11544 FM 59 South, in Athens. Rogers will be buried with full military honors immediately following in Willow Springs Cemetery.

He was born in Palestine, Texas, March 17, 1930 to Charles Frank Rogers and Katie McEvoy Rogers. During the 61 years he was MIA his parents passed away, also a brother Gerald (Jack) Rogers and a sister June Rogers Wherley, all of Athens.

He is survived by nieces, Ruth Davis and Sally Wilmarth of Palestine, Sandra Groom of Quinlan and Paula Dellinger of Farmersville. Nephews, Clifford C. Wherley of Mena, Ark., Steven Wherley of Tyler, Benny Don Wherley of Blossom and Glenn Wherley of Dallas, also his aunt, Edith (McEvoy) Rounsavall of Athens and his sister-in-law Ruth Rogers of Palestine, also his cousins, Pam Holland and Joe McEvoy of Athens, Pauline Asher of Cayuga and Thomas W. McEvoy of San Rafael, Calif.

Memorials may be made to Willow Springs Baptist Church.

SFC Rogers is not kin to Benny Rogers of Malakoff.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at dpmo or call 703-699-1420.

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