FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The remains of a New York City soldier missing from the Korean War have been buried next to the mother who ached for his return.
As TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported, a full military salute marked the burial of Pfc. Anthony La Rossa at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale on Monday. The Brooklyn native was just 18 years old when he went missing in 1951.READ MORE: Harlem's Josephine Baker About To Be Given France's Highest Honor, A Resting Place In The Pantheon
Ever since, his family has desperately hoped to uncover his fate.
“I had to be here, because we heard this story for a long time growing up, and whenever our mom told the story, she still cried,” said La Rossa’s second cousin, Fran Fishman. “It was very heartbreaking for her.”
Before heading off to war La Rossa posed for a photo with his mother and a younger brother. His mother, Marie La Rossa, died in 1976 – never knowing for certain what had happened to her son.
But in 1992, North Korea released the remains of hundreds of unidentified U.S. soldiers, and the Pentagon turned to family members’ DNA.
“In October, I got a phone call saying that they had identified his remains,” said Anthony La Rossa’s niece, Donna La Rossa.
Donna La Rossa said her father provided the DNA match that finally solved the puzzle. The family was filled with pride to see Anthony La Rossa’s remains laid to rest at last in his mother’s grave.READ MORE: First Responders Pay Tribute To Sean Patrick Carroll, Volunteer Firefighter Killed In Thanksgiving Day House Fire
“This is very important for the whole country to see, because it’s a memory that we need to remember what happened in Korea,” said John Barbella, a second cousin to Anthony La Rossa.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff Monday in honor of La Rossa.
“After far too many years unaccounted for, Pfc. La Rossa has finally come home,” Cuomo said. “As we lay this brave soldier to rest, I join with all New Yorkers in honoring his service to our nation with gratitude and pride. My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of all service members who remain unaccounted for.”
The burial has certainly brought closure and some answers to the family, but they said there is still another mystery unsolved about a secret love.
“He was single, but in the letters that we found, he wrote to my dad that he got engaged before we left, and we know her name’s Dorothy,” said Donna La Rossa.
The family could never find Dorothy. But they said if she is still alive, she too can rest easy with the confirmation of Pfc. La Rossa’s ultimate sacrifice for his nation 63 years ago.
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