BAKERSFIELD (AP) — A soldier who was killed during the Korean War more than 60 years ago has finally come home to California.
A flag-draped coffin containing the remains of Army Pfc. Roosevelt Clark arrived Wednesday morning at Los Angeles International Airport from Hawaii, where the U.S. military has an identification laboratory.
Members of Clark's family were on hand as a military honor guard carried the coffin to a hearse, which then transported it 115 miles north to Bakersfield in Kern County for a Friday burial.
Clark grew up in rural Arvin, southeast of Bakersfield. He dropped out of Bakersfield High School to join the Army. Clark was just 18 when he was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950. He had died three days earlier while fighting with the 35th Infantry Regiment when Chinese troops overwhelmed a position in North Korea.
His remains were included in 208 boxes of commingled human remains, thought to be those of U.S. soldiers that North Korea turned over to the United States in the 1990s. Clark's remains were recently identified through DNA and other tests.
"It's a closure for us," his cousin, Rennie Hunter, told KABC-TV.
With the missing, she said, "you just never know what had happened or if they will ever come back home."
Clark's photograph was displayed in his parents' home for years.
"We spent our childhood grieving the portrait of a young man that we never got to know," Karlina Maiden Martin told the Bakersfield Californian (http://bit.ly/Te3ezE ).
She and her siblings were raised by her late great-aunt Sarah Clark, Roosevelt's mother.
"I'm only saddened that the elders, who could truly appreciate his return, have passed on," she said. "Our family can now truly rest in peace."
Nearly 8,000 Americans who served in the Korean War remain missing, including 5,300 in North Korea.