LT Leonard Button was a short but sturdy Baptist from Arkansas. The night of May 13, 1953, no doubt required all the strength his faith, Army training and WWII experiences could provide.
What happened after that night may have been too much for even the strongest and most faithful man.
While landing behind enemy lines in North Korea for a “highly classified intelligence mission,” Button’s mission was discovered. Forced back from the shore by mortar fire, the infiltration boat could only listen to the small arms fire and grenade explosions from Button’s direction. Button, assigned to the 8240th Army Unit (see more below), was soon declared missing in action.
The next year, an Army general wrote his family (see document below), saying: “Since your son, First Lieutenant Leonard W. Button…was reported missing in action on 13 May 1953, the Department of the Army has entertained the hope that he survived and that information would be received dispelling the uncertainty regarding his absence. However, as in many cases, no information has been received to clarify his status. …In view of the lapse of time without information to support a continued presumption of survival the Department of the Army must terminate such absence by a presumptive finding of death.”
The letter added: “I regret the necessity for this message but hope that the ending of a long period of uncertainty may give at least some small measure of consolation.”
What the Army did not tell his family in 1954, and may never have told them, is that Leonard Button was known to have been captured alive on the night of May 13, 1953, along with Koreans on his mission.
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