Remains of Berlin soldier who died in Korean POW camp to be buried at Arlington

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — Army Cpl. Joseph Norman Pelletier will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday, more than 65 years after the Berlin man died in a North Korean POW camp.
Raymond Pelletier said he was shocked late last year when he received a call from the Army’s Repatriation Unit reporting that his brother’s remains had been identified.
“It was unbelievable,” Pelletier said.
Just last September he had a tombstone commemorating his brother dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery.
At the time, Pelletier said he hoped to recover the remains of the brother he knew as Norman but said he feared it was unlikely.
"Work continues to try to make that happen even though its likelihood seems relatively impossible at the time,” he wrote at the time. He added, however, that he remained optimistic that “maybe chance will strike a favorable note again."
In fact, his brother’s remains have been at the Joint Base in Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii since 1992. The Defense Departments POW/MIA Accounting Agency said between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned 208 boxes of commingled human remains to the United States that contained the remains of at least 400 U.S. servicemen. Norman Pelletier’s remains were in a group of 15 boxes from the North Hwanghae Province, where he was believed to have died.
Using advances in technology, the defense department said it continues to identify the remains of Americans missing in action while serving their country. There are 7,757 Americans still unaccounted for from the Korean War.
The call from the defense department came while Pelletier was flying to California to spend Christmas with his daughter. He arrived to find a message on his cell phone that his brother’s remains had been identified.
“I was shocked,” he said.
In February, a member of the U.S. Army repatriation branch visited Pelletier’s house in Hampton, Maine, and spent four hours briefing the family on Norman Pelletier’s service in Korea as well as the retrieval and identification of his remains.
Pelletier said he and two other brothers, Gary and Robert, had given DNA samples years ago and the DNA from the remains matched all three brothers. Dental and anthropological analysis also matched his brother’s records. Finally, found among the remains, was Norman Pelletier’s dog tag, an eyeglass lens, and part of an eyeglass frame.
Pelletier said the dog tag was a pleasant surprise for him. He said his brother’s name is clearly visible on it and he plans to put it in a special display case.
His family has chosen to have Norman Pelletier buried at Arlington National Cemetery where he already has a memorial headstone. That headstone will be replaced with a new one in a different section of the national cemetery. His three surviving siblings; Raymond, Robert and Gary, will attend Tuesday’s burial, which will include full military honors.
Pelletier said he is comforted to have his brother’s remains at Arlington where family members, now scattered across the country, can visit.
“I’m so pleased for him. He deserved it so much,” said Raymond Pelletier.
Norman was the oldest of seven children born to Alfred and Sadie Pelletier. The family lived on Burgess Street.
Norman Pelletier enlisted in the Army just after graduating from high school. He had wanted to drop out of high school to enlist but his parents insisted he graduate first. Raymond Pelletier said it was a decision that haunted his parents all their lives.
The following August, Norman Pelletier was sent to Korea as a radio operator in the 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division.
Within a month of landing in Korea, Pelletier’s actions had earned him a bronze star for valor at the Battle of Yongsan. In early February 1951, his unit was supporting Republic of Korea Army against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. The CPVF attacked the Americans on Feb. 12, causing them to withdraw south to Hoengsong. Pelletier never reported in and he was declared missing in action. He was just 20 years old.
After the war, Pelletier's name appeared on a list provided by the CPVF and Korean People's Army as a prisoner of war. Returning American prisoners reported that Pelletier died sometime in April 1951 at the "Bean Camp” from malnutrition.
A retired professor of French and former associate director of the Canadian-American Center at the University of Maine, Raymond Pelletier has spearheaded the effort to recognize his brother’s heroics and recover his remains. Pelletier said he was not quite 8 years old when his oldest brother enlisted, and his memories are few. As the years went by, he said he grew to feel not enough had been done to recognize his brother’s sacrifice. After he retired, Pelletier said he realized there was a gap in his life that he needed to fill. While he has learned much about his brother’s service, Pelletier said he is not done. He is currently reading David Halberstam’s book on the Korean War, “The Coldest Winter” and hopes to contact a former prisoner who was with his brother. He also plans to provide copies of documents and material on his brother to the Berlin and Coos Historical Society.

Detecting possible underground leaks

Berlin Water Works is asking for residents' help in detecting any possible underground leaks that have not surfaced.

It is not normal to hear constant water running in a household unless someone is using the water.

If you notice a sound in your home of constant water running when you or someone in your household is not using water, contact the water works office at (603) 752-1677. The sound you hear may represent a leak in the water main or your service line. Once Berlin Water Works was contacted it will investigate the sound of water and determine what is causing the running water noise.

Leaks do not always show up on the surface, so Berlin Water Works is enlisting customers help.

If any questions, call (603) 752-1677.

Planning board approves greenhouse development

BERLIN — Plans for an organic commercial greenhouse operation growing tomatoes and lettuce for markets throughout New England received site plan approval Tuesday night.

After a lengthy and detailed presentation, the planning board voted unanimously to approve the site plan, conditioned on North Country Growers LLC finalizing the purchase of the property and receiving all necessary state and federal permits.

A subsidiary of American Ag Energy, North Country Growers is in the process of purchasing 172 acres off the East Milan Road from the city for $680,000. The company has an option on the property and hopes to finalize the sale soon.

The two greenhouses will produce an estimated 15 million heads of lettuce and 8 million pounds of tomatoes annually. The operation expects to employ about 80 people with entry-level jobs starting at an annual salary of about $30,000 plus benefits according to CFO Marguerite Piret.

Piret said the firm has lined up financing and hopes to finalize both the financing and permitting to allow construction to get underway this spring and begin operating early next year.

Representing NCG, HEB Engineers President Jay Poulin first outlined the subdivision of the 213-acre parcel owned by the city. The city will retain ownership of two parcels totaling just over 40 acres and containing the former East Milan landfill and an abandoned landfill. The subdivision was approved with the condition it will take effect when the sale to NCG is finalized.

NCG will build its greenhouse operation on the southern end of its parcel. There will be two greenhouses — a 9.5-acre greenhouse for tomatoes and a 10.3-acre one for lettuce.

Piet said produce will be delivered to stores and restaurants within 24 hours of picking. She said NCG will serve an area within an eight hour drive of Berlin. She stressed there will be no retail operation on-site.

The produce will be grown hydroponically using rain water collected from the flat roofs of the greenhouses and stored in irrigation ponds. Poulin said the roofs will be heated in the winter to melt the snow to provide water. Instead of pesticides, the greenhouses will use predator insects to control bugs and problem insects and will have an entomologist on staff. Workers will shower and change into uniforms before going into the greenhouses.

One of the attractions of the Berlin location was access to the natural gas pipeline. The greenhouses will rely on two gas engines for heat and power with the carbon dioxide produced used to enhance plant growth.

While the Berlin facility would be the first for American Ag Energy, Piet said the technology has been used in Europe for 15 to 20 years now. She said company CEO Richard Rosen is currently in Belgium doing research on greenhouse operations.

“None of this is new technology,” she said.

Poulin said the greenhouses will be metal structures 19 feet high with glass skin on both the walls and roof.

Special black-out screens will be installed to block out the sun to keep the greenhouses cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. In response to a question from planning board Chair Tom McCue about light from the facility at night, NGS Environment and Safety Manager Sam Gaeth said the screens will block most of the light and used a video to show the effect.

A new access is proposed off the East Milan Road that will be gated. The entire property will be fenced and there will be security at all times. A landscape architect has developed a landscape plan for the property that includes an enhanced buffer along residential properties.

Abutter Gary Ferron said he believes the greenhouses will negatively impact the value of his property. He also said he works nights and expressed concern that during construction the noise will make it hard for him to sleep during the day.

Poulin said the project meets all setback requirements and is in an industrial zone.

Representing his son, Peter Nolet said the East Milan Road and Chalet Loop area is rural and the project will mean people there “are basically living in an industrial park.”

Community Development Director Pamela Laflamme said the city has received calls from other abutters in support of the project.

City Code Enforcement Officer Michel Salek asked NCG if they will recycle their dead tomato plants. Gaeth responded that the plants will be composted.

Planning board member City Councilor Lucie Remillard said she would like to see the produce available in Berlin’s one local grocery store. She also asked NCG to try and work something out to satisfy the concerns of abutters.

Piet responded that she will have the landscape architect look at ways to reduce impacts.

The planning board approval also specified that NCG must notify the city if it decides to grow crops other than vegetables there. Poulin assured the board that despite the rumors, NCG does not plan to grow marijuana at the facility.


Dana indicted on murder charges in death of 2-year old daughter

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — Roger Dana has been indicted on charges he murdered his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Madison by physically assaulting her while subjecting the child to sexual contact.

Meeting Friday in Lancaster, a Coos County grand jury returned indictments for first and second-degree murder against the 43-year old Berlin man.

The first-degree murder charge alleges Dana knowingly caused the death of Madison “by physically assaulting Madison before, after and/or while engaging in the commission of, or while attempting to commit felonious sexual assault, in that Roger Dana subjected Madison Dana to sexual contact.”

If found guilty of first-degree murder, Dana faces a sentence of life without parole.

The second-degree charge states Dana recklessly caused the death of Madison by physically assaulting her and states he subjected the child to sexual contact.

The second-degree murder charge carries a sentence of up to a life in prison.

The child’s mother, Ashley Bourque, has said she was at work when she was called home on the afternoon of Nov. 27 and found her daughter unconscious on the floor of the 109 York St. apartment she shared with Dana.
Madison Dana was rushed to Androscoggin Valley Hospital where she later died. Following an autopsy, N.H. Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Jennie V. Duval ruled the cause of death was blunt impact injuries.

Dana was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder a week after his daughter’s death and is being held without bail at the Coos County Jail in West Stewartstown.

Dana has an extensive criminal record and has faced 34 different charges ranging from motor vehicle violations to burglary and criminal trespass.

In September 2015, he was found guilty of domestic violence against Bourque. The police affidavit said Bourque told authorities Dana had slapped her on both sides of her face and then pushed her.

He was also found guilty of assaulting Berlin Police Officer Joseph Priest at the time of his arrest on the domestic violence incident as well as criminal mischief for urinating on the floor of the Berlin police station.