Missing Korean War Veteran Brought Home in Funeral Procession
Written by Rachel McDevitt
Last updated on August 05, 2014 @ 5:55PM
Created on August 05, 2014 @ 5:27PM
He's been missing, but not forgotten. On Tuesday, veterans and other citizens lined the side of the Gateway Connector in Fairmont to pay their respects to a fallen soldier as he was driven in procession from the Pittsburgh, Pa airport to a funeral home in Shinnston.
Corporal Alva Groves's sister, Lillian Anderson, remembers him as a good brother; a talkative and social young man who was so determined to join the service that his mother signed him up in September of 1949, when he was just 17 years old.
"We got the telegram that he was missing in January of 1951," Anderson said.
"Sixty-three years over in Korea is too long to leave a man," said Butch Mundell with the Marion County Vietnam Veterans and the Marine Corps League out of Morgantown. Mundell presented Anderson with an American flag during her brother's funeral procession.
Groves' family thought that his body would be returned right after the war, but it never was. For decades they waited.
"When you go through that for ten or 15 years, and then you think that there's no hope of his returning now," Anderson said.
In the 1990s, the remains of 208 soldiers were brought back to American soil from North Korea. Groves' family had their DNA tested eight years ago, in the hopes that they would match one of the soldiers. Then they kept waiting.
"You go through this time period of, well, is it all finished? Is it all over? Is there anything to look forward to?" Anderson said. "We never really expected even this."
Now Groves has finally made it home, received by a community that will never forget the service he did for his country.
"Veterans stand up for veterans," Mundell said. "And we all know, if you serve your country, you're going to get all the respect of the veterans. Whether we're in war or not, we respect them."
From Korea to Washington to Pittsburgh to Shinnston, Groves and his family have been through a lot to reach this bittersweet ending. But now his family knows that all that wondering, all that waiting, was not in vain.
"Just don't give up hope. That's what we had done," Anderson said. "Because it was such a long period of time. It was just over, that's all there was to it. But now we know that it's not just over. That there is still hope that they can be returned."
Cpl. Groves will be laid to rest with full military honors in the Pruntytown National Cemetery on Thursday morning.
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