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Carrie Laflin, left, and Randy Jasperson, right, met their cousin Brenda Dageford, center, after DNA testing revealed a family connection.

Harold Jasperson was killed in the Korean War in 1951, leaving his parents and younger brother devastated.

His family was forever changed and grief-stricken. Years later, the family has found healing thanks to a pleasant surprise when family members completed DNA testing.

Carrie Laflin never met her uncle — he died when her father was only 14 years old, long before Laflin was ever born. She and her brother grew up as the only grandchildren on her father’s side of the family. Though she knew many of her relatives on her mother’s side, she still felt a nagging sense she should do DNA testing.

“Something kept telling me to do the testing, so I sent for the kit,” Laflin said. “I activated my kit and sent it in. Lo and behold, I found a cousin. To say I was shocked is certainly an understatement.”

Laflin originally suspected the cousin was from her mother’s side of the family. Her mother had 13 siblings, so it was certainly a possibility. However, it was quickly revealed the connection was on her father’s side — her uncle Harold had a child.

While Jasperson was on leave in 1950 he fathered a child, a daughter — Brenda Dageford. She was placed for adoption and had been looking for her father’s family for 40 years. With little information to go on, DNA testing was her only option.

“We speculate that he knew nothing about her and we certainly did not either,” Laflin said. “When I read her message, all I could do was cry. I was up all night, thinking and crying. Not because I was sad but because my grandparents and dad’s lives could have been so enriched had they known about her and been given the chance for her to be a part of our family.”

Laflin’s father previously told her the story of how he remembers going to the train station in Oct. 1951 to meet his brother’s coffin. Jasperson was killed June 1, but they had to wait until October to get his body back. Her dad was only 14, but he remembers his father was never the same after the death of his oldest child. He never returned to the cemetery after Jasperson was buried and grieved for the rest of his life.

“If they would have known about her — known that some part of him was still alive — their lives would have been so different,” Laflin said.

They can’t turn back the clock, so the newly reunited family is embracing its future together. Laflin, along with her brother, met Dageford in person for the first time in March. Laflin said when she looks at her she sees her grandmother and great aunt.

“She and her family are an added blessing to our lives,” Laflin said. “When I look at her I see the face of my grandmother Florence and great aunt Clara. It is too late for my grandparents and my dad to know her, but Randy and I look forward to some family get-togethers for a chance to make new memories. I know my family knows about her — they have witnessed it all from Heaven.”

The test results have proven to be healing for Laflin and Dageford. They look forward to more time together. Laflin encourages others to be open to the possibilities of what testing may bring to their life.

“Just be open to whatever you may find,” Laflin said. “You never know what you will find. I never thought I’d find anything I didn’t already know, but I found this added blessing.”

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