SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Vicky Woolridge never met her uncle Asa Vance. He was listed as killed in action years before she was even born, but that didn’t make his funeral Friday — 70 years after he was reported missing in action — any less emotional.
The people who longed for Asa who loved him, his family, they dreaded a day like this,” Woolridge said. “And we welcomed this day, because it did make that circle complete and whole. And so it really is a celebration.”
Vance, a Korean War soldier, went missing in 1950. The family he left behind when he went to war are all dead, but their children were there in Springfield Friday, when his remains were finally put to rest. Woolridge couldn’t stop thinking about how her grandparents would react to the news their son was finally home.
“They’re dancing, they’re singing, they’re dancing. They’re elated, and they’re also I think, in that offering us some comfort,” Woolridge said.
Vance’s procession was joined by a special vanguard. The Illinois Patriot Guard took on the repatriation mission, and led the procession on their motorcycles.
“We treat these types of missions, the repatriation missions are the paramount of our missions. They take place over any other mission we might have had today, simply for that fact that that veteran has been this disconnected with his family, and with his country for so long,” Illinois Patriot Guard Senior Ride Captain Greg Cozad said.
Each veteran member of the stepped forward to give one last salute to Vance, and then accompanied their fallen brother to his final resting place at Camp Butler.
“That is you having to say, ‘Rest ell, my brother, your job is over. You’re watch is done. And we got your back,” Cozad said.