Sixty-three years after he was killed fighting in Korea, the remains of Army Pfc. Jerry Pat Craig have been buried at the Central Louisiana Military Cemetery in Leesville.
“It’s the most joyous occasion I’ve had in a long, long time,” Craig’s niece, Anita Fields-Gold of Lake Charles, said to KPLC TV. “To know he’s home, among his comrades and that tells our story.”
“Nobody’s to give up,” said Eleanor Tucker Grubbs, another of Craig’s nieces, according to The Town Talk of Alexandria. “Sixty-three years later, we’re proof of that.”
Craig was killed in December 1950 fighting in the Korean War. His remains – among 25 bodies exchanged by the Chinese and North Koreans in 1953 – were never identified but were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. They were marked as unknown.
However, the remains were identified through forensic testing this year. Fields-Gold accepted the remains.
Fort Polk Brigadier General William Hickman was among the dozens who attended the Dec. 19 burial to support Craig’s remaining family members.
Leesville Mayor Robert Rose and state representative James Armes spoke during the ceremony.
“I can assure you that none of our veterans, soldiers, sailors, marines who fought in any war are ever forgotten” said Mayor Rose.
Craig’s hometown was Panhandle, Texas, but the city of Leesville adopted him as one of its own and welcomed him Thursday with a procession through downtown. Many lined the street, waving American flags and saluting.