HOUSTON – The body of a Louisiana soldier who was killed after being captured during the Korean War returned home Tuesday to be laid to rest in Houston.
Army Sgt. John Hall was a member of Headquarters Battery, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. His unit received orders on Nov. 29, 1950, to move to Sunchon, North Korea, and went missing a few days later during the unit’s withdrawal through an area known as “The Gauntlet,” according to the Department of Defense.
After the war, a returning American prisoner of war reported that Hall had been captured and was killed on Jan. 26, 1951, at Hofong Camp, also known as “Death Valley,” according to the DOD.
His remains were not identified until 2005.
He was accounted for on June 6, 2018 following scientific tests to confirm the identity of his remains. His family, who waited nearly 70 years, welcomed him home.
A plane carrying Hall’s body arrived at Bush Intercontinental Airport just before noon Tuesday.
"It means that we finally received his remains and have the opportunity to put them at rest. Even though his mother was aware that he had passed. It's different when you have the remains of the body to put at rest,” said his niece, Deidra McKinnis.
She led Hall’s family to the edge of the plane. The honor guard stood to watch as the flag-draped casket was loaded into the hearse.
"For the family, it's just an abundance of emotions, joy, sorrow, but overwhelming peace to know that we do have part of his remains," McKinnis said.
There were salutes as people lined the concourse and the airplane windows to see this delayed homecoming.
"Mixed emotions. It was a relief as well as overwhelmed emotions. But gratefulness. Grateful to God for allowing us to have this opportunity to lay his body at rest," McKinnis said.
Hall will be buried at Houston National Cemetery after a funeral scheduled for Friday morning.