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VIDEO: Army Sgt. Cread Shuey laid to rest 76 years after death in WWII prison camp

Army Sgt. Cread E. Shuey. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency/Released)

As aircraft flew a missing-man formation in honor of Army Sgt. Cread E. Shuey, his relatives were at peace and in awe of the World War II soldier laid to rest Thursday at the veterans cemetery in Marana.

The Arizona Scorpion Formation Flying Team — a volunteer group including ex-fighter pilots — carried out a commemorative flight for Shuey during his burial service at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

An Army honor guard fired a gun salute and taps was played before a crowd, among them veterans and their families, active military, law enforcement and firefighters paying their respects to the young soldier who left Arizona more than 80 years ago, dying in an infamous WWII prisoner of war camp in the Philippines.

Shuey’s remains were unidentified until February, and were returned Tuesday to his half-brother, Ray Cates of Tucson.

Cates was presented with the American flag that was draped on Shuey’s wooden coffin that was carried in a white hearse escorted by Tucson and Marana police to the cemetery, where Patriot Guard Riders stood at attention, saluting while holding flags. Cates also was given three rounds — representing duty, honor and country — that were fired in the gun salute.

During the service, Army Chaplain Jason Seaman said even though a generation could survive without doctors, engineers, mechanics and schoolteachers, it could not survive “without the warrior who is willing to confront human aggression every day … life as we know it would simply cease to exist. Sgt. Cread E. Shuey was one such warrior, and we in uniform are honored to celebrate his life, military service and repatriation.

“The word ‘repatriate’ — to return to one’s country — has a very special meaning for American service members. We have been promised that should we lose our lives in combat on foreign soil, America will honor that sacrifice, keep faith with our fellow warriors and families and bring us back home. This morning, we are keeping that promise,” Seaman said.

“I now know where he is,” Cates said after the service in explaining a sense of happiness and peace knowing Shuey was back in Arizona, and buried in a grass section with rows of granite headstones. Earlier in the week, Cates also was presented with Shuey’s military certificates and his Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Cates was about 4 when he last saw Shuey in uniform.

Niece Diane Corwin, of Springfield, Oregon, said, “This closure brings me peace. He is where he belongs, and I am sure he knows he has been loved.”

Before the service, Linda Cates Varney, a niece of Shuey’s who lives in Vail, reflected on the uncle who died nearly two decades before she was born. “For not knowing this uncle of mine, after all of this, I feel closer to him and thankful for his service and sacrifice,” said Varney, 59.

She spoke about Shuey two days before the burial, while holding a thick binder full of Department of Defense and Army documents profiling his service and information about his death and identification of his remains. It included letters from Shuey’s mother, Arleta Nancy Cordes, who in 1947 lived in San Francisco, said Varney.

“My heart went out to her as she was pleading for the remains of her son to be brought back home,” Varney recalled. But the Defense Department was still conducting investigations and had no news for Shuey’s mother, according to a 1960 letter.

After reading about Shuey from military documents, Varney said the family is learning about his courage. “We have a true hero in our family,” Varney said, whose late father, Roy Cates, was another half-brother of Shuey’s.

“My father would have wanted to be here to welcome him home,” Varney said of her dad who died two years ago.

Shuey was born in Norton, Kansas, and moved to Arizona with his family. However, it is not known where the family lived or what year, said Fort Huachuca Army Sgt. Tareisha Travis, the casualty assistance officer for the family. Military records show that Shuey entered the Army in 1937 at age 18 by enlisting in Maricopa County.

He served with the G Battery, 60th Coast Artillery Regiment on the island of Luzon as part of the harbor defense system for Manila Bay prior to the U.S.’ entry into World War II, said Travis.

Japan launched a surprise attack on the Philippines on Dec. 8, 1941, just 10 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Shuey was among the soldiers captured in April 1942. Most of the 80,000 prisoners of war captured by the Japanese were forced to undergo the infamous Bataan death march. Travis said, “Most of the POWs died from malnutrition and diseases, and were buried in mass graves.”

More than 2,500 POWs died in the camp, and according to prison and historical records Shuey died Sept. 27, 1942 at age 23. He was buried with other prisoners in the camp cemetery. After the war, Army personnel exhumed those buried at the Cabanatuan cemetery and the remains were relocated to a temporary U.S. military cemetery near Manila.

In 1947, the remains were exhumed again in Manila in an attempt to identify them. The remains that could not be identified were reburied as unknowns in the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.

In May 2016, the secretary of the Army granted permission to exhume six graves associated with the Cabanatuan Common Grave 439. Those remains were sent to the specialized unit in Hawaii for identification, and Shuey’s remains were identified, the Department of Defense says.

Varney, a retired procurement specialist for the Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems, said her father, an uncle and other relatives gave DNA samples that helped scientists identify Shuey’s remains.


© 2019 The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.