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CALUMET– He died almost 52 years ago, but the story of Calumet’s MIA soldier, Marshall Kipina, continues.
After graduating from high school he enlisted in the Army. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, Army Staff Sgt. Kipina was assigned to the 131st Aviation Company, serving as an observer aboard an OV-1C aircraft on July 13, 1966. He was part of a night surveillance mission in Attapu Province, Laos.
“Their plane went down,” said Oscar Niemela, Vietnam War Veteran, Calumet. “They figure it was weather related and crashed into the mountains.”
Niemela goes on to say that, at the time, it was too much of a hostile environment to recover his body.
In April, the DPAA announced that with the assistance of the government and people of Laos, Kipinas remains have been recovered.
From the time he was missing until now, he was never forgotten. If fact, he joins a couple of others in a memorial in the Calumet Colosseum. He also has a plot at Lakeview Cemetery in Calumet. Niemela and other veterans are tried to bring his remains back home.
“To this date he will be buried in Arlington,” said Niemela. “We wish we could have got him back to the Calumet area.”
The four vets went on the U.P. Honor Flight last week where they paid a special tribute to Kipina.
“To honor Marshall, his classmates had got together with a few items that we’re going to leave at the wall,” said Niemela. “There’s a picture of Marshall. He’s number seven in this picture, his plane was Mohawk and then they have a card here and their class song.”
Niemela says it’s been a long time waiting to see if Kipina would ever be recovered.
“We’ve always watched to make sure and see if we could get Marshall back home again,” said Niemela. “We’re all glad he’s back. It’s closure for us.”
At a memorial service today, Niemela says it was announced that Kipinas remains would be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.