MADILL, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma couple’s dying wish was for their son’s remains to be found and returned to his hometown of Madill, Okla. Tuesday afternoon, their wish came true at Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport.
Sgt. Kenneth Walker’s family has been waiting patiently over seven decades for the emotional reunion.
“It’s pretty miraculous and really special to be a part of it,” Deborah Walker said.
Sgt. Walker’s body was flown to Will Rogers World Airport on a Delta plane. The soldier has been away from American soil since 1948.
The 17-year-old athlete from Madill enlisted in the United States Army and was deployed to fight in the Korean War. He was assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.
Two years later, just shy of his 20th birthday, Sgt. Walker was reported missing in action. His infantry was swarmed by enemy forces on Dec. 2, 1950, in the area of the Chosin Reservoir, now present-day North Korea. His body could not be recovered following the battle.
He was accounted for by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency on Nov. 12, 2019, after his remains were identified using circumstantial and material evidence and mitochondrial and autosomal DNA analysis.
Walker’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
“There are 10 of us ready to welcome him back home,” cousin Deborah Walker said.
Cousins, fellow veterans and Highway Patrolmen lined the path to Walker’s hometown Tuesday.
“These are the last few pages of his story filled with a ‘the end’ at the end,” Ken Morse with the Patriot Guard Riders said.
Sgt. Walker is set to be buried next to his parents this weekend.
“For all the people who are still waiting, it’s just nice to know they still have a chance,” Deborah Walker said.
Sgt. Walker is a Purple Heart Recipient and received a Combat Infantryman Badge for his service.
More than 7,600 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.