NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nearly 2-million American troops were sent to fight in Korea. Thousands never came home from what some still call ‘the forgotten war.’
On Monday, after 66 years, the remains of one local soldier touched down at LaGuardia Airport.READ MORE: NYPD Narcotics Detective Executing Search Warrant Shot On Staten Island
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, until Monday, the family standing on the tarmac at LaGuardia never got to say a proper goodbye to the Long Island war hero.
After World War II Army Chief Warrant Officer Adolphus Nava served in Korea — only to die and be captured in a prisoner of war camp.
That was in 1950. Now, more than half a century later his remains have been positively identified and flown back home.
“Amazing that the technology we have can actually bring a person back to heal a family,” Gary Kolesar said.
“It’s been a very long time. More than 60 years, but he is home,” Maray Nava Kolesar added. “I was doubtful because of the way it is in Korea right now, but never gave up hope.”
In the 1990s North Korea sent 208 boxes of human bones and personal effects to forensic scientists at the joint POW/MIA command in Hawaii.READ MORE: Storm Watch: 1-3" Of Snow Expected, Winter Weather Advisories In Effect Through 1PM
They were able to match trace amounts of Nava’s DNA from arm and leg bones with samples provided by his family.
Now, his grandchildren and great grandchildren are learning about a war and a man that had been a mystery.
“They are such noble men and did so many wonderful things. I am just really happy,” granddaughter Mary Purchacki said.
Nava will receive full military honors Thursday at Calverton National Cemetery where he will be buried alongside his son David who served in Vietnam.
“It’s a bittersweet but very happy time to have him home, would not be possible but for the wonderful country we live in, and out government,” Mary said.
There were 36,000 American troops killed in Korea, 7,600 are still unaccounted for. DNA testing of soldier’s remains continues. So far, the remains of 345 Americans killed, missing, or captured in Korea have been identified.MORE NEWS: Search Continues For Gunman After 11-Month-Old Shot By Stray Bullet In Bronx