GONZALES, LA (WAFB) -
After 61 years of not knowing what happened to their loved one, the family of Joseph William “J.W.” Fontenot is now able to lay their loved one to rest.
In February 1951, Fontenot was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division when he was captured by enemy forces near Saemal, South Korea. He reportedly died June, 28 1951, while in captivity at Camp 1 near Changsong, North Korea.
Fontenot was 20 years old. He was from Whitehall, Louisiana and was assigned to the Army’s Company L, 3rd Battalion, 38th Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in Fort Louis, Washington. He was a Corporal.
Before joining the service, Fontenot was a strawberry farmer, along with his father, in Whitehall, LA.
His family spent the last 61 years not knowing where he was and if his body would ever be located.
In 1954, United Nations and Communist Forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called “Operation Glory.” Among the remains that were turned over at that time were remains of servicemen who had died in Camp 1.
All of the remains recovered in Operation Glory were turned over to the Army Central Identification Unit for analysis. Those which were unable to be identified with the technology at that time were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.
“I couldn’t ask for a better day,” says Fontenot’s Sister Barbara Fontenot Noel. “The weather’s beautiful and my brother is home. He was just so happy and when he left in 1951 we got this telegram that said he had died. So we have been waiting for this for a long time.”