It was a special morning at Tulsa International Airport on Friday.
The Patriot Guard riders, flanked by Tulsa police, firefighters and state troopers helped with the dignified transfer ceremony of a Korean War veteran. He was 21 years old when he was last seen in battle by a fellow soldier.
U.S. Army Corporal Eldon Ervin, of Wyandotte, was assigned to Headquarter Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division.
His remains were recovered a few years ago and identified this year, the military says. They now are being escorted to Miami for a funeral service, then to his final resting place in Seneca, Missouri.
He will be buried in Seneca on Tuesday with full military honors.
In late 1950, approximately 2,600 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team. The 31st RCT was engaged in conflict with Chinese forces in late November 1950, according to a government statement.
“Following the attack, a soldier saw Ervin die as a result of shrapnel wounds. As the unit withdrew from the area, only wounded soldiers were evacuated,” the military says. “The U.S. Army issued a report of death for Ervin with a date of Nov. 28, 1950.”
Administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Ervin’s were not included and he was declared non-recoverable, according to the government.
“During the 21st Joint Recovery Operation in 2001, recovery teams conducted operations on the eastern bank of the Chosin Reservoir, Changjin County, North Korea, within 1 kilometer of where Ervin was reported killed in action,” the DOD says.
The remains of seven were recovered in that effort.
To identify Ervin’s remains, scientists from U.S. Department of Defense and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial and anthropological evidence, as well as DNA analysis; including mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA analysis and autosomal STR analysis, which matched two sisters and a brother, the DOD says.
Today, 7,820 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.
News On 6 photojournalist Michael Blair was at the airport to capture the very moving dignified transfer of Ervin’s remains as they continue the final journey home after 65 years.
Click on the attached video to watch.