10/12/08 — Duplin man wants to try again to bring cousin home

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Duplin man wants to try again to bring cousin home

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on October 12, 2008 2:00 AM

Despite the lack of success by the U.S. Army's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command team during its trip to Cambodia in January, Cary Turner has not given up hope of bringing home his cousin, Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Hargrove.

Turner, who joined the JPAC team on the Cambodian island of Koh Tang for about two weeks, said he hopes to return in January 2009 to finish what he sees as a job left undone.

"I don't want to smear the JPAC team because they treated me very well," Turner said. "But my sources told me that where they excavated on the island, they didn't dig as deep as they should have. So we're going back."

And this time, he plans to hire his own team of workers to dig a 2.5-foot deep, 30-foot square hole around the tree Hargrove is believed to be buried under.

"I've got someone who's going to give me a crash course in anthropology -- the processes, what to do, what not to do -- and of course I watched everything real close last time," Turner said. "If he's there, we're bringing him home. If he's not, then it's over. The family trusts me. With the government, there's always a question if it's true."

But to get those answers, he needs to raise about $10,000.

"I promised my wife that if I wasn't able to raise every penny this time, that I wouldn't go," he said.

And to help him raise the funds, the Beautancus Community Club is sponsoring a reverse drawing at 7:30 p.m., with a barbecue and chicken dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 1. Tickets are $50 for a chance at winning $2,500.

It's an effort that Joseph's widow, Gail Hargrove, is supportive of, especially with the disappointing results of the most recent official search.

"About three weeks ago, I got a letter that they had not found any remains of Joseph in those three spots on the island, but that they did find a wallet," she said. "I had sent him a wallet about five weeks before (the attack), and I know he got it, and it wasn't in his belongings that were returned to me. So when I go to D.C. on Veterans Day, I'm hoping I can get permission to see that wallet."

But even with that small bit of hope to hang onto, she is still hopeful that Turner's efforts might turn up something more.

"I'm excited he's going back," she said. "I just think he's so sweet putting his whole world on hold once again for this."

Hargrove was one of three Marines left behind on Koh Tang island in 1975 during fighting after the hijacking of the S.S. Mayaguez by the Khmer Rouge -- a battle often considered the last action of the Vietnam War.

Anyone interested in tickets should call Turner at 658-0160.