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California veteran's remains return home after missing in action during Korean War

February 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
It was an emotional and historic homecoming more than 60 years in the making. The remains of a U.S. soldier declared missing in action during the Korean War were returned home.

A flag-draped coffin with the remains of Army Pfc. Roosevelt "Jack" Clark arrived at Los Angeles International Airport at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday to a crowd of family members and servicemen and women. A Delta flight transported his remains from Hawaii.

A military honor guard carried the coffin to a hearse. Clark, who grew up near Bakersfield, was taken to Kern County to be laid to rest. He played football for Bakersfield High School.

Family members were wondering what happened to him for years. They say they finally have the peace of mind they were looking for.

"This moment means, I can't explain in words what it really means to us," said Renne Hunter, Clark's cousin. "It's a closure for us. I don't know if you've ever had anyone missing in action before, but your thoughts just go wild sometimes. You just never know what has happened or if they will ever come back home."

Clark was just 18 when he was reported missing in action in 1950. His remains were among those recovered from North Korea in the 1990s and were recently identified through DNA and other tests.

His family remembers a man with a can-do spirit that just wouldn't quit. Hunter recalls a time when Clark hopped out of a Jeep when the car's brakes failed.

"He decides, oh, forget the brakes. He just jumped out of the Jeep, got in front of the Jeep, and decides to play Superman," recalls Hunter.

Clark's family was overwhelmed by how the Army handled the transfer.

"The salute at the airport was just awesome. I mean, God bless America, what can I say," said another cousin, Fonda McNut.

For loved ones, that respect made the sad day a little easier. Clark's family did have the option of burying him at Arlington National Cemetery, but they decided he belongs back home where he grew up in Kern County.


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