Decatur, Ill. (WCIA) —
A Korean War soldier’s family didn’t know where he was for decades, but now he’s back home. = Members of the community came together to honor the soldier who has been missing since 1950.
Asa Vance’s remains were flown into a St. Louis airport. A procession then brought him back to his hometown.
“To honor these people after they’re identified, its the very least we can do,” Bill Jones, U.S. Army Veteran, said.
The remains of a former Korean War soldier have finally been brought home after around 70 years. Veterans, family, and members of the community lined the streets of Decatur to welcome home Asa Vance.
“They’ve earned it, they’re entitled to it and we do everything we can to honor those people when those remains are identified,” Jones said.
Vance went missing in action in December 1950 in North Korea after his unit was attacked by enemy forces. The army listed him as presumed dead in 1954. It wasn’t until 20-18, that the North Korean government turned over 55 boxes of war-dead remains to the United States and analysts identified Vance among them.
“Its pretty amazing. When we got that message that they had found his remains we were all in shock. We just couldn’t believe it after all these years,” Pam Logan Larrick, Vance’s niece, said.
Pam Logan Larrick is Vance’s niece. She says unfortunately her family that knew her uncle has passed, but she wanted to make sure he got a proper welcome home.
“We didn’t honestly think that this would ever happen. After all this time, you just don’t think its possible, but it means a lot, it means a whole lot to all of us,” Larrick said.
She said they were going to bury him last year, but the Covid-19 pandemic put a delay to bringing Vance home.
“We’re doing it, you know, and its important. He’s going to get laid to rest and we’ll have as many family members here as we possibly can,” Larrick said.
Now Vance is finally home and giving family closure, while also celebrating his return.
“Its going to be memorable. And its going to be happy, but its going to be sad too. So its part of it,” Larrick said.
Veterans came from all over Central Illinois to honor Vance. They were at the funeral home hours before helping put up flags. The funeral and burial will happen Friday in Springfield.