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Toledoan still doubts brother died in China

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Rolland Desautels holds a photo of his brother Richard Desautels, who China says died in captivity in 1953 and was buried there. China had denied Americans were buried there.

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Toledoan Rolland Desautels said yesterday he continues to have questions about the reported death of his brother during the Korean War, despite a five-year-old revelation by the Chinese government that he was buried in its country back in 1953.

Mr. Desautels, 81, who moved to Toledo in 1957 for work as an engineer at Surface Combustion Inc., said his brother, Army Sgt. Richard G. Desautels, whom the Koreans were believed to have captured, was seen alive in Korea by another prisoner of war from that same conflict in August, 1953.

"He was shocked that my brother hadn't been released," Mr. Desautels said. "He said my brother was in the truck behind his to go to the exchange center [for POWs]. Unfortunately they took three prisoners off that truck, and my brother was one of them."

The Chinese version is that Sergeant Desautels died on April 29, 1953, a week after becoming mentally ill. The Chinese government denied for years that he or any other Americans killed in Korea had been buried in China.

Pentagon officials, though, got what the Chinese described as "a complete record of 9-10 pages" in classified archives in a March, 2003, meeting in Beijing. That report said Sergeant Desautels was buried in China.

The revelation was kept quiet for five years. A Pentagon spokesman has said it was intended only for Sergeant Desautels' family.

Rolland Desautels never followed up on that report, but passed it along to a POW-MIA advocacy group, the National Alliance of Families. That group, in turn, recently gave it to the Associated Press.

Mr. Desautels said he didn't follow up on the Chinese version because he didn't believe it.

"All that farce about him dying in April is baloney," Mr. Desautels said. "I feel that we're being deceived. I'm beginning to believe that there's very little we can believe that the Chinese give us."

The Desautels brothers grew up in Shoreham, Vt.

Mr. Desautels said his brother joined the Army when he was 17. About a year later, he was captured.

Chinese officials said in 2003 the location of his remains was lost after they moved his grave for a construction project.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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