SPRING LAKE, Mich. (WOOD) — For decades, photos and medals spread out on the coffee table in Irene Arbogast’s living room have been reminders of her brother, a hero. But the medals told only part of the story of U.S. Army Sgt. David Alexander Feriend.
There were still unanswered questions about Feriend, remembered by his little sister as a happy-go-lucky kid running around the house, singing country and western tunes.
“And Ernest Tubb was one of his favorites. He was always singing his songs,” Arbogast, of Spring Lake, recalled.
Feriend enlisted in the Army shortly after the end of World War II, but eventually came back home to Fife Lake south of Traverse City.
Jobs were scarce and he didn’t want to be a burden to his struggling family, so Feriend re-upped and was deployed to Korea during the early days of the war there.
He was a sergeant assigned to an infantry unit. According to his obituary, his unit was attacked during the brutal siege near the Chosin Reservoir in eastern North Korea. The siege lasted 17 days in freezing weather.
Feriend was listed as missing in action in December 1950. He was 23.
“The dedication to family, not wanting to be a burden, and giving your life at 23 years old,” his niece, Terri Stout, summed up Feriend’s legacy.
Irene Arbogast said her parents held on to a thin strand of hope that he was a prisoner of war and the empty gravesite in their hometown would remain so. But as time marched on, hope dwindled.
“I lost all faith after both my parents became deceased and I thought that would probably be the end of it,” Arbogast said.
Then came the Singapore summit last year between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea agreed to return 54 boxes of human remains from the war.
Through DNA tests, box number 36 was determined to be Sgt. David Feriend.
The Army revealed the likely scenarios that lead to his death. The most likely is that a bomb struck a transport he was driving during the siege at Chosin, carrying wounded soldiers to safety.
Feriend’s remains will be returned to Michigan Friday.
Arbogast will be able to put to rest the big brother she lost too soon.
“It’s really gratifying to know he’s finally at rest in our hearts,” Arbogast said.
The sergeant’s remains will be flown to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport near Grand Rapids Friday night, where he will receive full military honors. Patriot Riders and the Michigan State Police will escort his remains to a Traverse City-area funeral home.