NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. (WHTM) – A New Cumberland woman has been working for 11 years to find the remains of her uncle. He was a paratrooper killed while serving in the Netherlands during World War II.
Karen Dugan says even though never met her Uncle Dick, he deserves to be brought back home. After years of work, there’s finally been a discovery that brings her closer to achieving that goal.
“Every guy that’s over there is still serving until they’re brought home,” said Dugan.
Dugan has made it her mission to bring home the remains of her uncle Corporal Richard Gentzel.
Gentzel entered the 82nd Airborne from New Cumberland in 1942.
Dugan says he was in the wellknown unit 504, known as the “devils in baggy pants.”
The 22-year-old was killed while on patrol in the Netherlands.
Dugan didn’t find out her uncle’s remains were missing until 2008, and ever since, she’s spent thousands of hours traveling and searching.
The New Cumberland resident has been working with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and History Flight to look through the area.
“People would say, ‘why are you bothered by it when 70 plus years have gone by,’ but it’s the right thing to do,” said Dugan. “Those boys went over there to fight for our country. They never intended to not come home in one form or another.”
In August, the ID bracelet of a trooper on patrol with Gentzel was found at their loss site, giving a glimpse of hope.
Dugan says she’s learned about her uncle by traveling the world and meeting some of the people he served with.
“Met his lieutenant from that night in Florida,” said Dugan. “Made a lot of friends from guys that were in his unit that told me stories about him.”
Dugan and her family are in constant contact with people overseas and in America, but a lot of the process involves waiting.
Still, they’re not giving up.
“We still want to find him,” said Dugan’s husband Bernie Dugan, who is the chief of police in Annville.
“And we will,” said Karen Dugan. “We will.”
Dugan is working on getting a POW/MIA chair in honor of Gentzel placed in a local VFW.