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Family: Prayers brought MIA soldier home

Posted at 2:25 PM, Oct 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-20 16:46:53-04

LEOMINSTER, Mass. (WCVB) – Years of uncertainty and pain have been eased after the remains of a Massachusetts soldier killed during the Korean War were returned home.

Private First Class Norman Dufresne came home Wednesday. It was a long road of 63 years since the 20-year-old soldier was reported missing in action in Korea.

“[I’m’] the last of the 12 of my family. And I was here to see my kid brother home. Finally after 63 years, could you imagine,” said Claire Weber, Dufresne sister.

Dufresne was 17 when he signed up to defend his country. His disappearance half a world away left a whole in a huge proud Leominster family.

“Growing up, whenever there were family gatherings they used to mention Uncle Norman a lot,” said said Dufresne’s nephew, Al Guillemette.

Last year, advances in DNA sciences allowed a positive ID on remains found a year after private Dufresne was lost.

Weber and other relatives escorted her big brother on the final leg home Wednesday. It was his last ride up Mechanic Street to St. Cecilia’s, where his parents had prayed for their boy the hero until they died.

“My grandmother used to say the rosary at night and then she would look out the window and expect to see Uncle Normy coming home. And you know and I think this is why he's home,” said Guillemette.

Weber said the homecoming means her grandmother’s prayers have finally been answered.

“I can remember her sitting in her rocking chair and say, ‘If he's dead, bring him home,’ and she would just sit and rock and cry because she never gave up hope,” said Jayne Peppen Ponder, Dufresne’s neice.