SAN PEDRO, CA
U.S. MARINE CORPS
PFC, CO F, 2ND BN, 7TH MAR REG, 1ST MAR DIV, MCAGCC, TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA
11/291950, FOX HILL AT THE TOKTONG PASS, NORTH KOREA
After 68 years, the remains of Roger Gonzales, a Marine killed in Korea in 1950, have been identified. Roger Gonzales, born Feb. 14, 1930, the son of Antonio and Anastasia Gonzales, was a San Pedro kid with big Olympic-sized dreams.
He graduated from San Pedro High School in 1948, got engaged to a girl in the neighborhood and joined the U.S. Marine Reserves just as the Korean War was heating up. By July 1950, reservists were being called up for the war. Roger and his cousin Freddie wound up in Fox Company in Korea. An account of Fox Company’ four-day battle at Chosin Reservoir was chronicled in the 2009 book “The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin. The book includes references to Gonzales and Chosin Reservoir survivor Bob Ezell who served with Roger in Korea and is in touch with the Gonzales family. Bob Ezell thinks about his friend every day.
“I regret to inform you …” the words of that telegram would changed the Gonzales family forever. The year was 1950. The words said that the family’s only son, Roger Gonzales, 20 years old, was killed in action. It was just weeks after he arrived with other Marines to fight the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. The news of the death still brings tears.
His sister, Ermina “Minnie” Salceda, was 14 years old. “We were real close, he would take me everywhere,” Minnie Salceda, now 82, recalled. Her mother, she said, was heartbroken.
Adding to the anguish was the fact that Roger’s remains were never positively identified — until this year 2018. Thanks to technology and the painstaking work of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Gonzales will be coming home on September 13th.
Roger Gonzales’ remains were handed over by the Korean People’s Army in September 1954. The remains were recovered at the Chosin Reservoir, according to Charles Prichard, director of Public Affairs for the DPAA. The remains shipped to Japan, then to Hawaii and were buried with other remains together as “unknowns” in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Making use of DNA provided by one of his sisters, Roger Gonzales was positively identified.
The Gonzales family will bury Roger’s remains according to heir mother’s wishes.
“She (Mrs. Gonzales) said if anything happens and they (identify) my son after I die, I want you to bury him with me.”