NEW RICHMOND, Ohio — A New Richmond family is celebrating the life of a Korean War soldier finally identified and laid to rest decades after he was reported missing in action.
There are no photos of Corporal Charles Lee. Instead, his story is told through his family's memories and the military honors he received when he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
The ceremony was closure for a family who spent decades searching for answers.
"It was probably the most spectacular thing that I've ever seen," said Mary Werner, Lee's niece. "With him being missing for so long, he was treated the same as if he died yesterday, and he didn't have any different treatment than someone who would be dying in service today."
Lee's family said he was reported missing more than 70 years ago. He was declared non-recoverable in 1956.
"His remains were buried by a farmer along with another soldier," Joe Werner said. "And as the battle had ended and the North Koreans were pushed back, his remains were recovered but he was never positively identified until last year."
Advancements in DNA research finally brought closure. Though the discovery may seem like the end of his story, Lee's family said his legacy lives on through them.
"He now seems to me to be alive in a way, and I think that's what closure really means to me," Joe Werner said. "You don't close things off, you remember it."
His story will also be shared in a military museum in New Richmond where his family plans to display his uniforms and medals.
"He never got a chance to live, and now he will live in all people's memories," said Mary Werner. "I'm hoping that with all of the things that I can put in the museum that future generations will be able to see him and learn a little more about the Korean War."
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