It’s a homecoming of sorts that is 65 years overdue. Vice President Mike Pence led the ceremony for the return of 55 sets of remains, presumed to be of U.S. service members killed in the Korean War.
Pence delivered the opening remarks here on base for what is known as an Honorable Carry Ceremony to commemorate the first time the remains are back on American soil.
Each set of remains was removed in a transfer case draped in the American flag. It was a ceremony befitting American heroes, and it’s time to welcome them back home.
“Some have called the Korean War the forgotten war, but today, we prove these heroes were never forgotten. Today, our boys are coming home,” said the vice president.
It’s been 65 years since the war ended. Officials say about 5,700 U.S. servicemen are still missing, so there are a lot of families holding out hope from Wednesday’s homecoming.
“To the families of our fallen, here and looking on, know that our hearts are with you today. We share your hope that someday soon your loved one’s precious remains will be restored to your tender care,” said Pence.
The remains will be examined at Pearl Harbor/Hickam by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, also known as DPAA. Scientists will use DNA and other forensic tools to try to make a positive identification.
Family members will also play a key role.
“So we will collect DNA samples from family members and keep that on file, so if we’re able to extract DNA from the remains, we can make a match in the analysis,” said Sgt. Kristen Duus from DPAA.
“Today, they are known but to God, but soon we will know their names and we will tell their stories of courage,” said Pence.
It will likely take years to identify the remains, but this brings hope for families looking to put their loved ones in their final resting place.