VIDALIA, Ga. (WTOC) - A soldier from Vidalia, Ga. has finally been accounted for years after the Korean War.
Army Cpl. William S. Smith, who was 19 at the time, was killed during the Korean War but was not positively accounted for until June 4, 2019, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Smith was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division during the summer of 1950. He was reported missing in action on Sept. 1, 1950 after an assault on his unit’s position along the Naktong River in South Korea, according to DPAA.
The Department of the Army declared him deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953.
A set of unknown remains were examined but could not be identified at the time and were therefore buried at UNMC Miryang.
After more identification attempts failed, the remains were transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii and were interred as Unknown.
It was not until October 2017 that the remains were disinterred and sent to another laboratory for analysis.
According to the DPAA, “to identify Smith’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.”
Robert Manders never met his uncle. His only connection to the 19-year-old who shipped off to war was through his mother and grandmother.
“They would sit back and talk about the funny things my Uncle Silas would do,” Manders said. “The grief wasn't really spoke of, but it was seen in the facial expressions of my grandmother and mother.”
Last month, the military contacted Manders - the only remaining relative - that they had a match and they'd bring his Uncle Silas back home. R
He’s now planning a funeral. He says it will have all the military honors as if his uncle had fallen in combat last week, not generations ago.
“The majority of this is closure, because my mother and grandmother spent all those years walking the floor, racking their heads, wondering what happened,” Manders said.
The exact date and time for a service will depend on when the remains get home.
Manders says military members past and present can attend the service, to share the bond and sorrow.