Monday, August 27, 2007

Part Two - Mark Warren Judge

PUBLICATION FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 1996 FORT WAYNE - THE JOURNAL GAZETTE AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT PERMISSION.
TAG: 199604100076

DATE: Wednesday, April 10, 1996
EDITION: FINAL
SECTION: A SECTION
PAGE: 1A
ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO CAPTIONS APPEAR AT BOTTOM OF STORY SEE MICROFILM FOR GRAPHIC SHOWING DETAILS OF THREE BODIES THAT WERE RETURNED FROM VIETNAM THAT OFFICIALS NOW BELIEVE HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN A MIX-UP. (THESE WERE MARK JUDGE, KENNETH PLUMADORE AND WILLIAM BERRY.) BY MIKE ROYER / THE JOURNAL GAZETTE. (ALSO CONTAINS A HEADSHOT OF JUDGE.
SOURCE: By Julie Zasadny The Journal Gazette
VIETNAM MYSTERY EXHUMED BY MOM IDENTITY CHALLENGED 29 YEARS AFTER BURIAL

Mary Jellison blinked back tears Tuesday during a short memorial service for her son, killed 29 years ago in Vietnam. She leaned on relatives while a backhoe removed dirt from the grave. She watched silently as a coffin was lifted from the ground at Concordia Cemetery Gardens and cried when the lid was pried open, revealing her son's Marine dress uniform.

Three decades after the funeral for her son, Jellison was again at his grave, facing again the tragedy of his death. But she already had resolved that opening the grave was something she had to do. The exhumation is expected to answer questions that have lingered since Jellison learned that the body she buried there in 1967 may not be that of her son, Mark W. Judge. Judge was among 31 Marines killed by North Vietnamese soldiers while defending a Marine outpost near Con Thien in September 1967. U.S. officials returned what they believed was his body to his mother for burial. But in August 1994, U.S. military officials told Jellison the body buried in the grave may not be her son. They acknowledged that military medical experts may have misidentified three bodies - one buried in Fort Wayne, one buried in California and one that wasn't found immediately after the battle. The revelation came after the Vietnamese recovered the body of an unknown soldier near the battlefield in 1986. Military officials now believe the unknown soldier returned in 1986 is Judge, and the remains in Judge's Fort Wayne grave are those of William A. Berry, a Marine from California. They believe Kenneth Plumadore of Syracuse, N.Y., lies in Berry's grave. Plumadore had been listed as missing in action/presumed dead. Jellison didn't want to exhume Judge's grave. But the families want their questions answered. Jellison decided to dig up the grave on her own and didn't tell military officials what she was doing. ``Right now, we are so desperate to see it before the government does,'' Jellison said. By the end of the day Tuesday, the bones in the coffin had been examined by experts. But the most important question remains: Whose body lies in Judge's grave? Jellison never wanted to be in this situation. She didn't want to be standing at her son's grave, the lapels of her navy wool coat turned up against the cold, the sound of shovels scraping on a concrete vault in the background. ``It's been 29 years, and it seems like a bad dream,'' she said. ``It shouldn't be happening. ``It's not fair to the boy to be interrupted.'' Jellison has fought government efforts to exhume the body. She feared officials would take the body without giving her a chance to have the remains tested herself. Jellison was feeling pressure. A military review board hearing April 19 is expected to give officials the right to dig up the grave. The exhumation brought together for the first time members of all three families whose lives now are intertwined. Pat Plumadore, Kenneth Plumadore's sister, came in from Syracuse, N.Y. Fred Berry, William Berry's brother, came from Roseburg, Ore. Fred Berry has vowed not to dig up his brother's grave in Yreka, Calif., unless there is sufficient reason. ``Somebody's got to prove something to me. Otherwise, my brother's staying where he is,'' he said. Pat Plumadore was apprehensive about what the exhumation might uncover. ``I don't want anybody to end up with nothing,'' she said. But she is eager to find out whether she finally will have a body to bury. Before the digging started, 14 people huddled around Judge's grave, listening to the Rev. Arthur Klausmeier of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 917 W. Jefferson Blvd., read words Jellison had written. ``Give all here today the knowledge and wisdom to find the answers to our many questions,'' he read. Fifteen minutes later, the group watched as a yellow backhoe started removing mounds of dirt from the 10-by-10 hole. After two dozen scoops, workers with shovels jumped into the hole to clear dirt from the sides of the vault. The process was slow. Most people returned to their cars to get warm, but Kevin Jellison, Judge's younger brother, stayed. He was 9 years old when his brother was buried. Kevin Jellison remembers riding in the hearse with the Marine escort. ``Twenty-nine years ago,'' he said quietly, gazing at the grave. Cemetery workers found two shells from Judge's military gun salute that were embedded in the dirt around the grave. They gave them to Mary Jellison, who turned them over and over in her hand. One and a half hours later, the backhoe lifted the coffin from the ground. Indiana University anthropologist Steve Nawrocki and Allen County Chief Deputy Coroner Phillip E. O'Shaughnessy examined the exhumed bones, which had turned black from minerals in water that had seeped into the coffin. They weren't ready to draw any conclusions Tuesday about the skeleton's identity. ``It's really confusing,'' O'Shaughnessy said. ``There's three sets of records to check. We don't want to do this haphazardly.'' There is confusion, he said, because the body has been buried for a long time, and some parts are missing. The body now is being stored in a mausoleum at the cemetery. In a back room at the Concordia Cemetery Gardens office, Nawrocki cleaned the bones and laid them in sequence to dry. A green toothbrush, blue paper towels and a box of rubber gloves lay among the bones. Jerry Dennis came from Largo, Fla., to help with the identification. He has been in Jellison's shoes - the military returned remains it said were his brother's in 1966. Now his brother is listed as a prisoner of war. Dennis, who has been researching his brother's case for years, said the cheekbones are in good shape for identification purposes. Several teeth can be used for DNA testing. Jellison doesn't know when - or where - she will get the tests done. She is trying to find a DNA lab that doesn't have a contract with the federal government. She has piles of documents detailing the ups and downs of the case. All she wants is the truth. ``Now with all of these doubts they planted, you don't know what to believe,'' Jellison said. ``I want to believe I have my son. But I have to know so I can put it to rest.''

CAPTION: PHOTO BY CATHIE ROWAND / THE JOURNAL GAZETTE: Mary Jellison, center, and family watch Tuesday as the earth is removed from the grave of her son, Mark Judge , at Concordia Cemetery Gardens in Fort Wayne. Judge was killed in Vietnam. The military says it thinks the wrong remains are buried in the plot.

PHOTO 2 BY ANDREW JOHNSTON / THE JOURNAL GAZETTE (RAN ON 4A): Jerry Dennis, of Largo, Fla., looks at remains exhumed Tuesday from Mark Judge's gravesite. He was to help identify the remains.

Part three will be posted on Sept. 3, 2007.

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