PHILADELPHIA (AP) — More than four decades after her brother vanished from the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, Virginia Cleary learned the young Marine’s body was found along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 1968 and buried in an unmarked grave.
Now she wants to know who fatally stabbed 20-year-old Robert “Bobby” Corriveau, of Lawrence, Mass., who earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam before his disappearance branded him a deserter.
“I never thought for one minute that he took off someplace and started a new life,” said Cleary, 59, of Conway, N.H., who was 14 when her oldest sibling vanished. “I knew my brother wouldn’t just walk away.”
For years, Corriveau’s loved ones grappled with the loss. His sister obsessed over it. His mother made peace with it.
And his teenage bride, Sharon Foley — they had eloped weeks before he shipped out in 1966 — pondered the goodbyes exchanged after he came home with bullet wounds a year later. He was troubled, both by the horrors he had experienced in Vietnam and by the peace movement she had joined back home, she said.
“He said, ‘What are you doing now, Baby Blue?’ I said, ‘I’m going to California.’ He said, ‘I’ll see you there,’” said Foley, now 65 and living in Columbia Falls, Mont.
Instead, Corriveau’s violent outbursts and heavy drinking back home led his parents to seek psychiatric help for him at the now-defunct military hospital in South Philadelphia in October 1968. A month later, his father called to see if he’d be home for Thanksgiving.
He was told his boy was AWOL.
“They had tons of AWOL people. Tons. A lot of deserters, people going to Canada,” said former Marine John E. Kelly, a retired New York City detective helping the family investigate his death. “They probably were just overwhelmed.”