Tucson to honor local Korean War casualty with ceremonial Veterans Day burial
The ashes of Korean War casualty Army Pfc. Glenn Collins will be interred in Tucson, where he spent part of his childhood, after he was reported missing in action during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in winter 1950. His sister said “it means everything” to have her older brother return to his family after he was lost at age 21.
Collins will be buried in the South Lawn Cemetery at 5401 S. Park Ave. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The service will begin at 11 a.m. and is open to the public.
Born in Marshall, Texas, Collins' family of eight moved to Tucson in 1942, when he was thirteen years old. He later moved to Tranquillity, Calif. near Fresno, where Collins joined the Army alongside his younger brother, Clarence. He became a member of the Heavy Mortar Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.
Almost two years after he joined, he was reported missing on Dec. 2, when his unit was attacked near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, and a week after nearly 200,000 Chinese troops launched a surprise assault on U.S. forces that had been advancing northward through the Korean Peninsula.
Collins’ sister Lawanda Brothers said that her brother Glenn, the oldest sibling in the family, was “the best brother in the world,” helping her do her arithmetic homework in exchange for cleaning his dishes and vetting boys who wanted to take her on a date.
“We had missed him for so many years,” an emotional Brothers said. “I’m very, very pleased and happy that he’s going to be returned here.”
There are 81 relatives of Collins and Brothers buried in the South Lawn Cemetery, and Collins will be able to join family including his brother Clarence who returned to Tucson and became a minister. Younger by 14 months, Clarence was close to his older brother, Brothers said. “They were just like twins, but they weren’t...if they went somewhere, they went somewhere together” she said.
Collins went accounted for until April 2020, almost 70 years, when he was identified among remains turned over to the U.S. in 2018 by North Korea. His name, etched in limestone in the Court of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, will now be marked with a rosette to show he’s been found.
The Battle at Chosin Reservoir was an early, major setback for the U.S. in the Korean War, the conflict that resulted in the current partition of North and South Korea. The Army and Marines had invaded the northern part of the peninsula through its coast, but Chinese forces had been building at the border for several weeks to launch an attack. The U.S. Department of Defense reports that the U.S. suffered more than 12,000 casualties from the battle.
More than 7,000 service members remain unaccounted for from the Korean War, the DOD reports.
Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.