MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – The remains of a Midstate soldier who was captured more than six decades ago during the Korean War are back on American soil.
He didn’t survive a POW camp, and for 65 years, his remains went unidentified. Now, he’s finally home.
Most flights into Harrisburg International Airport are not welcomed by the honor guard like Saturday morning’s Delta Airlines plane was. That flight brought a passenger who deserved it.
“Well, it’s amazing for one thing, I mean, that they can do all this,” said Richard Bohner of Williamstown.
Bohner’s uncle, Army Cpl. Martin King, went missing 65 years ago in the Korean War. He was just 18 at the time.
King died of malnutrition a few months later in a POW camp, but his remains weren’t returned to the U.S. until the 1990s and weren’t identified until recently.
“They called me from Fort Knox, Kentucky, [and said] that they found some remains and it was my uncle,” Bohner said.
Saturday, King’s remains landed in Middletown and were taken to Tower City, his hometown.
Bohner didn’t really know his uncle; any pictures the family had burned up in a fire. In fact, not even the Department of Defense has a picture on file.
“But it brings peace of mind,” Bohner said. “Glad he’s home.”
“It’s good to see a brother home,” Army veteran Tim Smith said. He’s from Hershey and knew he needed to be at HIA Saturday to watch King’s flag-draped casket taken off the aircraft and loaded into a waiting hearse.
“We wanted to make sure he had family here to welcome him home,” he said.
King’s case is not unique: More than 7,800 Korean War vets remain unaccounted for.
“We’ll never forget,” Smith said. “We take a pledge to bring them all home, and it’s very important we do.”
There’s a long road ahead before those families get the same closure.
“Glad that he’s home,” Bohner said. “But too bad it has to be this way.”
King was posthumously awarded several medals, including the Purple Heart.
His family will hold funeral services Monday at 11 a.m. at the Chapel of Dimon Funeral Home in Tower City.
He will be buried at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery will full military honors.