US veteran of Korean War, 85, arrives home

Updated: 2013-12-08 02:56


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US veteran of Korean War, 85, arrives home

US veteran, Merrill E. Newman, who was detained for over a month in the DPRK, smiles after reuniting with his wife, Alicia (L), upon arrival at San Francisco International Airport December 7, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

SAN FRANCISCO - An 85-year-old US veteran of the Korean War who was detained for several weeks in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) arrived home Saturday in California.

Merrill Newman landed in San Francisco on a flight from Beijing.

Newman was detained in late October at the end of a 10-day trip to the DPRK, a visit that came six decades after he oversaw a group of the ROK wartime guerrillas during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Last month, Newman read from an alleged confession that apologized for, among other things, killing the DPRK people during the war.

The DPRK cited Newman's age and medical condition in allowing him to leave the country.

Earlier Saturday, a smiling Newman told reporters in Beijing that he felt good and was glad to be on his way home.

"And I appreciate the tolerance the (DPRK) government has given to me to be on my way," he said after arriving at the airport in Beijing from Pyongyang, adding that he looked forward to seeing his wife.

The televised statement read last month by Newman said he was attempting to meet surviving guerrilla fighters he had trained during the conflict so he could reconnect them with their wartime colleagues living in the ROK.

Newman's son, Jeffrey, said he spoke briefly with his father from Beijing and that he was "in excellent spirits and eager to be reunited with his family."

Newman's release comes as US Vice President Joe Biden visit to Asia brought him to Seoul. Biden said Saturday that he welcomed the release and said he talked by phone with Newman in Beijing, offering him a ride home on Air Force Two, but the man declined, saying there was a direct flight to San Francisco.

Biden said he had played "no direct role" in Newman's release, but also urged Pyongyang to return Bae immediately, according to the White House.

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