Northampton native left Market Street to serve in Korean War
NORTHAMPTON — Born Jan. 2, 1930, the late Sgt. Richard J. Archambeault grew up on Market Street during the Great Depression with his eight siblings. There were 21 years separating the oldest, Roland Archambeault, and the youngest, Bernard Archambeault.
Bernard Archambeault, the only remaining living sibling, said their father, Edward, died when Richard Archambeault was 5 or 6. Their mother, Adeline Archambeault, worked to keep the family fed and together with a lot of help from her oldest son.
Richard Archambeault was about three years older than Bernard Archambeault and the two were very close, Bernard Archambeault recalled.
“In those days, everyone had their own gang, and we were the Market Street gang. We weren’t causing trouble, it was just a fun thing,” he said. “My brother was well-liked. He was a strong man — a fighter.”
What follows is a time line of his life, with dates and information culled from Defense POW/Missing Personnel records)
November 1948 — At age 18, Richard Archambeault enlists in the U.S. Army and starts training at Fort Hicks in New Jersey.
August 1950 — Richard Archambeault ships to Korea with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
Nov. 1, 1950 — The Battle of Unsan, North Pyongan Province, North Korea, signals China’s entry into the conflict. The Chinese forces attack and overwhelm the 8th Cavalry Regiment, which is forced to retreat to a village five miles south. One battalion — the 3rd Battalion that Archambeault was assigned to — is ordered to provide cover for the rest of the soldiers as they withdraw.
Nov. 2, 1950 — At about 3 a.m., the 3rd Battalion is about to withdraw when the Chinese People’s Volunteer Force attacks again. At the end of the three-day battle, an estimated 600 men are dead. Richard Archambeault is believed now to have been among them. About 200 who were able attempt to escape Nov. 4, but most of them are captured later that day. About 250 wounded soldiers surrender and end up in POW camps.
July 1951 — The Archambeault family is notified by mail that Richard Archambeault was considered missing in action. Bernard Archambeault, who joined the U.S. Air Force with hopes of meeting up with his brother in Korea, learns the news only days after arriving in Korea.
December 1953 — Five months after the end of the war, after finding no trace of Archambeault, the military declares him dead at age 20, posthumously promotes him from corporal to sergeant, and notifies his family.
January 1956 — After failing to identify Archambeault’s remains among the 1,868 remains that North Korea provided in 1954, the military tells his family that his remains are considered non-recoverable.
1990 — North Korean officials hand over more remains to the United Nations. According to records, some of the remains were believed to be U.S. soldiers from Unsan.
2006 — Siblings Bernard Archambeault and Blanche St. Jean provide DNA samples to the government, hoping it will help their late brother’s remains to be identified.
April 2014 — The family is notified that the DNA they provided matches DNA in bones the North Koreans provided in 1990.
June 2, 2014 — Sgt. Richard Archambeault is buried with full military honors in Salisbury, Maryland.
— REBECCA EVERETT