Remains of man MIA for 63 years to be returned to Verbena for burial

(CBS42)
(CBS42)

[lin_video src=http://eplayer.clipsyndicate.com/embed/player.js?aspect_ratio=16x9&auto_next=1&auto_start=0&div_id=videoplayer-1369884350&height=480&page_count=5&pf_id=9624&show_title=1&va_id=4077320&width=640&windows=2 service=syndicaster width=640 height=480 div_id=videoplayer-1369884350 type=script]VERBENA, Ala. (WIAT) — Dot Justiss doesn’t remember too much about her uncle, Olen Williams.

“He was a jolly feller to joke and laugh and cut up,” Justiss said.

She was six-years-old when she last saw Olen.

United States Army Master Sgt. Olen Berry Williams left soon thereafter to fight in the Korean War. He never returned.

Sgt. Williams was listed as MIA on December 12, 1950, after a battle in North Korea near the Chosin Reservoir.

“Everybody over the years has always hoped that we would find him sooner or later,” Justiss explained.

In 1953, though, the family received a letter from the government; the details of the letter were grim.

“I was the one that went to the mailbox, and it was a letter declaring Uncle Olen dead,” said Justiss.

More than 60 years later, Justiss and her daughter, Tammy Richardson, were contacted by officials about the reopening of Sgt. Williams’ case.

Both women were asked to submit DNA samples to try and prove a match.

They obliged and provided the necessary samples. However, that wasn’t what provided the proof.

A letter, written to his father years earlier, and x-rays were the necessary items used to prove a match to Olen’s remains.

His remains were previously buried at the National Military Cemetery in Hawaii, along with other unidentified servicemen and women.

Now, after 63 years, his remains are coming home, and he will be provided with a proper burial.

For Dot Justiss and Tammy Richardson, they are just glad to have their uncle coming back home.

“It’s a closure. A happy closure, a sad closure – a hero is finally coming home,” Richardson said.

“It fulfills his family. They’re all accounted for now,” Justiss said. “Even though they’re all dead and gone, they’re all accounted for.”

Williams already has a marker in the family cemetery near Verbena, but when he is buried there in June, the old marker will be removed and a new one will be put in its place.

Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42

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