Korean War Veteran Buried After More Than Six Decades
ATHENS, Texas – The remains of a Korean War veteran were finally laid to rest in his East Texas hometown, more than 60 years after he was declared missing in action.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph reported that Cpl. Benny Rogers was buried Saturday amid a sea of flag-waving veterans, supporters and family members, some of whom recalled his mother's anguish over not knowing her son's whereabouts.
Rogers' remains were recently found in North Korea and confirmed through enhanced DNA testing.
He received full military honors when he was buried next to his parents in Willow Springs Cemetery, near Athens.
His family last heard from Rogers in a letter he sent to them on Oct. 30, 1950. In the letter, Rogers told his parents he's been recently promoted to staff sergeant, and he's sitting in a "fresh dug" hole, about 60 miles north of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.
Three days later, the 20-year-old soldier was caught in the Battle of Unsan, in which more than 1,000 soldiers died.
Both of Rogers' parents have died, but relatives expressed happiness that his remains finally made it home.
Niece Ruth Davis said she grew up hearing about "Uncle Benny."
"We as children, we heard what happened," she said. "We understood the look of sadness on our grandmother's face."
Paula Dellinger, another niece, said in the months and years that followed his disappearance, her grandmother developed a strong faith that carried her through the tough times.
Rogers was born in 1930. He grew up on a small farm outside Athens with his parents, Charles and Katie Rogers, his brother, Gerald Jack Rogers, and sister, June Rogers Wherley. None of them are still alive.
Rogers was reported missing in action on Nov. 2, 1950, but his mother never gave up hope that he somehow survived, relatives said.
The family home was adorned with his photos, American flags and Purple Heart medal, his mother always hoping that they would reunite one day.
"It's wonderful closure for the family," said C. J. "Jackie" McGee, 59, a Vietnam War and Desert Storm veteran who was at the cemetery.