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November 16, 2012

Penn. police probe 1968 murder of Marine

Sister's persistence helped bring Cpl. Robert Daniel Corriveau back for hero's burial

(Continued)

Cleary credited that incident “and a promise I made to my father that I would never give up looking for my brother and bring him home” with fueling her relentless pursuit of the truth. “On the day I was able to supply the death certificate, the Marine Corps went in and began the process to change the status of the deserter classification,” Cleary said. “He ended up with four rows of ribbons and several medals.”

In September, she went to Pennsylvania to get a court order to bring her brother’s remains back home, where they were buried at the family plot in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lawrence during a private ceremony with full military honors, including taps, a 21-gun salute and active marines serving as pallbearers. It will be 44 years ago tomorrow that the mystery surrounding Cpl. Corriveau’s disappearance and death began. He had previously received psychiatric treatment for a combat-related condition at the Chelsea Naval Hospital, but later became a patient at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital.

“When he came home from Vietnam, it would have been PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They didn’t have a name for it him back then,” recalled Cleary, who was 14 at the time of her brother’s disappearance.

“My father called Philadelphia Naval Hospital to find out whether my brother would be able to travel home for Thanksgiving. But they regretted to inform him that he had been missing since Nov. 18. That was about a week. They hadn’t even notified the family. At that point, he was listed as being A.W.O.L. and 30 days later, he was classified as a deserter,” she said. An unidentified body was discovered in a seated position about 30 miles west of Philadelphia. An autopsy determined the dead man had been stabbed once through the heart. He had tattoos, which helped identify him years later. But he carried no identification on him. “We don’t know what happened, but we always had a strong feeling something happened at Philadelphia Naval Hospital, where he was in a locked psychiatric ward,” Cleary said.

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