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Korean War Medal of Honor recipient's remains return to Georgia hometown after 73 years

Army Pfc. Luther Herschel Story died in the Korean War at the age of 18.

May 29, 2023 5:07pm

Updated: May 29, 2023 5:22pm

The remains of Medal of Honor recipient Army Pfc. Luther Herschel Story, who died in the Korean War, were returned to his family in Georgia after 73 years, and he was given a Memorial Day burial on Monday. 

At 18 years old, Story was last seen alive on Sept. 1, 1950, near the village of Agok on the Naktong River in South Korea, The Associated Press reported. His unit came under attack by North Korean troops, and because he feared his wounds would slow down his company, he stayed behind to provide them cover. 

Because of his heroism, Story was awarded the Medal of Honor and posthumously promoted to corporal. 

However, his family didn’t know where his remains were. 

“In my family, we always believed that he would never be found,” said Story’s niece and closest surviving relative, Judy Wade. 

The month after Story was last seen, the U.S. military recovered a body that was in the area where he had fought. The unidentified remains were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii with other unknown service members. 

In 2021, the remains were disinterred as part of the military’s effort to identify the remains of several hundred Americans who died in the Korean War.

More than 7,500 Americans, about 20% of the nearly 37,000 U.S. service members who died in the war, are either still missing or their remains have yet to be identified. 

Wade and her late mother, Story’s older sister Gwendolyn Story Chambliss, had provided DNA samples before Chambliss’s death in 2017, which scientists eventually found matched the DNA from Story’s bones. 

“I don’t have to worry about him anymore,” Wade said, who was born four years after Story went missing. “I’m just glad he’s home.” 

Story’s casket received a police escort with flashing lights in Story's hometown of Americus, Ga., on Wednesday, before it was buried with military honors on Monday at the Andersonville National Cemetery. 

Following the DNA match of Wade with Story’s remains, President Joe Biden made the announcement of the late corporal's return with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol last month.

“Today, we can return him to his family,” Biden said of Story, “and to his rest.” 

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