Since 2007, 385 soldiers have been identified
The effort by Thomas Lucid and his family to bring home the remains of his Uncle Edward, killed in the Korean War more than 63 years ago, may sound like an impossible quest, but records from the Department of Defense (DOD) suggest there is hope.
Since 2007, according to the DOD, the remains of 385 individuals who were unaccounted for between World War I and present day have been located, identified and returned to their families.
In fact, of the 54 found in 2013, 34 were from the Korean War.
Another from 1950
Thomas Lucid, of Cleveland Township, said he draws hope from an article in The News-Item's Nov. 11 veterans tab that told how the remains of George J. Conklin Jr. were returned to his family Nov. 6 in Albany, N.Y. Conklin was killed near North Korea's Chosin Reservoir in early December 1950.
It was Aug. 6 of that same year when Pvt. Edward Lucid was killed in Korea.
Conklin was 17 when he went into the Army in 1949. He was a private first-class serving in the 7th Infantry Division's 31st Regimental Combat Team as it supported encircled U.S. Marines fighting their way out of the mountainous terrain near the reservoir. Conklin was among a large contingent of American soldiers overrun by Chinese forces. He was reported missing, then listed as killed in action when the war ended in 1953.
Nearly a decade ago, Conklin's younger brother, Carl, gave a DNA sample to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) laboratory in Hawaii, the Pentagon unit charged with finding and identifying missing U.S. military personnel recovered from overseas battlefields. In September 2004, a JPAC team recovered human remains and military material evidence at two sites near the Chosin Reservoir. Pentagon officials said Conklin's remains were identified in September at JPAC's laboratory in Hawaii through the DNA sample.
Joe Gantt comes home
Just last month, the remains of Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gantt, who went missing during combat in the Korean War in 1950 and was presumed dead, were returned to his 94-year-old wife, Clara Gantt, of Inglewood, Calif.
The Los Angeles Times, which waited with the widow while the soldier's remains came into the Los Angeles International Airport Dec. 20, said Gantt joined the Army in 1942 and served in the South Pacific during World War II. He and Clara lived in Fort Lewis, Wash., until he left for the Korean War; he was assigned as a field medic to Battery C, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division.
In December 1950, he was taken prisoner while defending his unit's position near Kunu-ri, Korea, and he died in March 1951 from malnutrition and lack of medical care in a Chinese POW camp, the newspaper reported.
Clara Gantt never stopped attending meetings in Washington, D.C., in hopes she would hear news about her husband; she was told in one of those meetings in October that her husband's remains had been found.
The Los Angeles Times said the remains were returned to the U.S. by North Korea and sent to a forensics lab in Honolulu to be identified.
Joseph Gantt was buried with full military honors Dec. 28 in Inglewood, Calif. His wife told reporters she would be buried alongside him some day.
Nearly 37,000 U.S. troops were killed and another 103,000 were wounded in Korea.
Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American teams.