Korean conflict POW’s remains returned to Bar Harbor after 62 years

Posted Oct. 03, 2013, at 3:29 p.m.
Robert Tait
Robert Tait

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The remains of Robert J. Tait, who served in the Korean conflict where he went missing at age 19 have finally been recovered and identified. They were returned to Bar Harbor where they will be buried this weekend with full military honors.

Tait joined the U.S. Army when he was 17. He fought in a battle near the Chosin Reservoir in present-day North Korea in 1950, according to a press release from the Defense Department. The battle took place against Chinese and Korean forces during one of the coldest winters in the country’s history.

Three years later, American soldiers reported that Tait had been captured on Dec. 2, 1950, “and died shortly afterward due to lack of medical care and malnutrition,” the press release stated.

His remains were not among those returned by the Communist forces during Operation Glory in 1954, according to the Defense Department. But some remains associated with Tait were among the human remains believed to belong to U.S. servicemen that were given to the U.S. by North Korea between 1991 and 1994.

In an arrangement between the two countries, more remains excavated by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command between 1990 and 2000 also were returned and brought to the command’s laboratory in Hawaii for analysis.

It wasn’t until about a week ago, however, that Teresa MacQuinn received a call from her sister Iona Strout telling her that Army officials had remains that matched their DNA and could be identified as their brother Bobby. Both sisters still live in Bar Harbor.

“Shock,” was the feeling MacQuinn said she felt when she heard the news.

A funeral for Tait will be held at Ledgelawn Cemetery in Bar Harbor at 11 a.m. Saturday. Gov. Paul LePage and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud will attend, according to Patrick Eisenhart of the American Legion.

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