US to North Korea: Let 85-Year-Old American Go Merrill Newman has been held for more than a month By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Nov 30, 2013 5:20 PM CST 13 comments Comments This 2005 file photo provided by the Palo Alto Weekly shows Merrill Newman, a retired finance executive and Red Cross volunteer, in Palo Alto, Calif. (Nicholas Wright) (Newser) – The US is urging North Korea to release an 85-year-old American who's been detained for more than a month. Retired finance executive Merrill Newman, who fought in the Korean War, was taken off a plane Oct. 26 by North Korean authorities while preparing to leave after a 10-day visit. Newman's son has said his father wanted to return to the country where he spent three years during the war. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says that given Newman's age and health—he's on heart medication—North Korea should release him so he can be reunited with his family. North Korea state media claims Newman apologized for alleged crimes during the war and for "hostile acts" against the North during his trip.