By Bill Durette
In 2018, President Trump negotiated with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to repatriate the remains of 50 U.S. soldiers missing from the Korean War. One of the remains returned was that of Lt. Thomas J. Redgate who served with the 7th Infantry division. Lt. Redgate went missing on Dec.11, 1950, and was eventually declared killed during the Battle of Chosin reservoir. Lt. Redgate who has family roots in Charlestown, served in WWII, and then became an officer and served in the Korean War.
Lt. Redgate’s remains arrived at Logan Airport last Tuesday, Sept. 14, and his first stop was Charlestown. Lt. Redgate’s nephew Andrew Redgate, stated the previous day: “Our family, the Kielys, have fond memories of Charlestown, especially during the Bunker Hill Day parade, so I thought it would be nice for Thomas to pay a visit.”
The reception for Lt. Redgate and family had a Bunker Hill Day atmosphere to it, which brought back those fond memories for the family. Several hundred people waited for the precession to arrive from Logan Airport.
I was proud of all the townies that showed up along with Rep. Danny Ryan, the American Legion members, Abraham Lincoln Post members, the U.S. Navy, Boston Police and our local Fire Fighters. A number of local Korean nationals also attended, all there to pay respect and welcome Lt. Redgate home.
One Korean student stated, “We are very grateful to the U.S. for helping our country during the Korean War and becoming a democratic free country.”
I can personally attest to this appreciation, having visited Korea numerous times. The procession came up Bunker Hill Street at 6:30 p.m. and stopped at 395 Bunker Hill St., the house where the family of Lt. Redgate’s mother, Agnes Kiley, lived. The family got out and greeted the crowd, displaying a picture of Lt. Redgate, along with a group picture of the family sitting in front of their house taken during a past Bunker Hill Day parade.
During the stop, American Legion members and many others gathered around and put their right hand on the Hearse carrying Lt. Redgate for a moment of silence and “Welcome Home Proclamation.” Lt. Redgate was laid to rest last Friday, Sept. 17, at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.
Located several streets up from 395 Bunker Hill St., at the corner of Sackville and Bunker Hill streets, is a hero square dedicated to Sgt. Joseph F. Riley from Charlestown. Like Lt. Redgate, Sgt. Riley went missing fighting in North Korea on Nov. 28, 1950 – 12 days before Lt. Redgate’s disappearance. Sgt. Riley’s remains have yet to be repatriated. Someday, we hope to welcome home Sgt. Riley. A special thank you goes out to Danny Ryan and Arthur Hurley of the American Legion for getting the word out, and thanks to all who responded by attending and giving Lt. Thomas Redgate a hero’s welcome