THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Thursday, January 18, 1996 TAG: 9601180477 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A9 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: FROM WIRE REPORTS DATELINE: RICHMOND LENGTH: Medium: 61 lines
Joe Dresnok last saw his brother 45 years ago and has searched for him the past 20. Except for a 1962 military newspaper clipping that said Army Pvt. James Dresnok had deserted his post in South Korea, he came up empty.
But on Tuesday night, Dresnok started getting phone calls from friends who saw news reports on the Pentagon's release of the names of four former U.S. soldiers believed to be deserters living in communist North Korea. James Dresnok was one of them.
``I'm thrilled. It's information as opposed to no information. . . . It's a new opportunity,'' Dresnok, a management consultant who lives in Raleigh, said Wednesday.
When Joe was 5 and his brother was 9, the family split up while living in the Richmond area. Joe said he stayed with his father, moved with him to Pennsylvania and lost contact with his mother and brother.
``I have fond memories of him and very much look forward to locating him,'' said Dresnok, 50.
Dresnok began trying to find his brother in 1975. He contacted the Pentagon, the American Red Cross and Amnesty International with no luck. A family member led him to the Stars & Stripes article about James Dresnok's desertion.
James Dresnok was 21 and listed as being from Norfolk, when he left his unit in August 1962, according to the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen, a Seattle-based group.
Federal documents indicate that the four American soldiers defected to escape disciplinary problems rather than for political beliefs.
All four men, according to a 1968 Army document, ``were in constant trouble'' - all had been subjected to or were awaiting disciplinary action.
``None appeared to be politically motivated at the time,'' said the document.
Joe Dresnok plans to contact the Pentagon again and hopes to see a video that may show his brother. Pentagon officials said Dresnok and two other deserters are believed to have acted in a North Korean movie, ``Nameless Heroes,'' in the early 1980s. It dealt with intelligence during the Korean War. In an undated piece of propaganda written under Dresnok's name, he denounced Western society and said he had found happiness in North Korea.
Joe Dresnok said he would go to North Korea ``without a hesitation'' to find his brother.
With the end of the Cold War, Dresnok said he had been closely watching a slight warming in relations between the United States and North Korea. ``I've been hoping that I would live long enough to see that,'' he said.
Dresnok said he has no idea why his brother would have defected to a communist country. ``The way that we'll actually know what happened is when he tells us,'' he said. MEMO: This story was compiled from reports by The Associated Press and The
Newport News Daily Press.