Laverne Minnick vividly remembers learning that her older brother had been reported missing in action during the Korean War some 65 years ago when she was just 17. "When I got up the next morning and looked at my dad, his hair was gray. It was brown the day before," says Minnick, now 82. "Many people say that's not possible, but that's what I remember. That's how upset we were." One by one, Robert V. Witt's family members died not knowing what exactly became of the 20-year-old Army corporal from Bellflower, Calif. Should Minnick ever meet them again, she can finally put the mystery to rest. Found in North Korea and identified last month, Witt's remains were returned to Minnick early last week and will be buried with full military honors at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier on Friday, reports the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Witt, a soldier with Task Force Faith, was among those attacked by Chinese forces at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in November 1950. US troops adjusted their position on Dec. 1, and Witt was reported MIA a day later. US soldiers returned in POW exchanges in 1953 told officials that Witt had been captured and died of malnutrition around Jan. 31, 1951, but his remains weren't returned after the war. Around 2000, however, US and North Korean officials uncovered remains near Hwaong-Ri Village. Among the bones recovered, plus those found in 208 boxes sent to the US from 1990 to 1994, were two femur bones with DNA matching samples supplied by Witt's mother and brothers. "My mom didn't think she would be alive to hear the news," says Minnick's daughter. "I am so happy," Minnick adds. "He's going to be home, where he belongs, with his family." (Read more Korean War stories.)