Finally finding missing Korean war soldier's remains a 'total surprise' for Baton Rouge man's family _lowres

Dudley L. Evans

Roy Evans was 16 when his family got the devastating news that his older brother was missing and presumed to have been killed during his military service in the Korean War.

He was anxious to join the Army and go over himself, signing up to volunteer at age 17. He had a particular mission in mind, finding his brother. But it wasn’t meant to be.

“They asked me why I wanted to serve, and I told them I wanted to go over to Korea to look for my brother,” the now 80-year-old Evans, who lives in Baton Rouge, said Thursday. “They said, ‘No way.’ The military didn’t like to have two members of the same family get killed.”

The question of what happened to his brother, Army Cpl. Dudley L. Evans, who went missing on Feb. 15, 1951, has hung over Roy Evans and the rest of the Evans family for the past 65 years.

But they are finally getting some long-awaited closure after the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency recently recovered and identified the remains of Dudley Evans. The family now will be able to give him a proper send-off with burial services in Evans’ hometown of Greenville, Mississippi, on April 23.

It’s a development Roy Evans said his family never saw coming.

“It was a total surprise,” Roy Evans said. “I have his picture on the wall in my living room. That’s the only thing we had to remind us of him.”

He added, “I’ll be so glad when we finally get everything settled and bury him along side our mom and dad and his grandparents.”

Dudley Evans, who was 24 when he went missing, never married or had any children. He was one of five children — three boys and two girls. Roy Evans was the youngest.

Dudley Evans was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army’s 23rd Infantry Regiment, according to a news release from the Defense Department about the recovery of his remains.

Dudley’s division was engaged in enemy battle in the vicinity of Chipyong-ni in South Korea when he vanished.

“In late 1953, as part of a prisoner of war exchange, known as ‘Operation Big Switch,’ returning U.S. soldiers told debriefers that Evans was captured by enemy forces and died in March 1951, during the march to the Suan POW Camp,” the news release states. “His remains were not among those turned over to the U.S. by communist forces after the Armistice.”

The Defense Department reported Dudley Evans’ remains were among the remains of countless other U.S. servicemen that were recovered between 1990 and 1999 during various joint operations and exchanges between the U.S. and North Korea.

To identify Dudley Evans’ remains, scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory took DNA samples from Roy Evans, his niece and his nephew.

The Defense Department reports there are 7,819 American remains who are still unaccounted for from the Korean War.

“They said they knew it was Dudley beyond any shadow of doubt,” Roy Evans said. “I just didn’t believe, after all these years, it would ever happen.”

Roy Evans said his brother’s death was something that his mother never got over. That’s why she didn’t support his decision to drop out of college at LSU so he could serve in the military himself, he added.

Although he wouldn’t get the deployment to Korea he was seeking, Roy Evans did serve in the military, later marrying a Baton Rouge native.

Roy Evans, who is Dudley’s last remaining sibling, said the family received a few letters from Dudley during his deployment. Other than those, Roy says a lot of the details about his brother have grown foggy as he’s gotten older.

“I remember he always got the best piece of chicken on Sunday ’cause he was bigger than me,” he joked. “That, I remember though.”

Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.