War widow collapses as husband’s body returns home after 63 years

Posted at 2:57 PM, Dec 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-21 14:57:34-05

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (CBS News) — A fallen American soldier missing for 63 years was given a hero’s welcome in Los Angeles Friday.

Army sergeant Joseph Gantt died in 1951, but his remains were only returned to his 94-year-old widow Friday morning.

Joseph Gantt

Clara Gantt, who spent more than half her life waiting for the reunion, sobbed and collapsed next to her husband’s casket during the early morning homecoming at LAX.

“He’s here, but not the way I want him to be here. But the Lord brought him home,” said Gantt. “I am happy I am still alive to bury him myself.

Sgt. First Class Joseph Gantt, who disappeared in 1950 while fighting in the Korean War, was presumed dead. His remains were only recently identified, which allowed the soldier to finally be flown to his wife.

“He told me if anything happened to him, he wanted me to remarry, and I told him, ‘No, no.’ So here I am still his wife, and going to remain his wife until the Lord calls me home,” Gantt said.

Gantt will be laid to rest next week.

About 7,900 Americans who fought in the Korean War are still listed as missing.

More fallen soldiers are able to be identified because of modern technology, which allows the military to examine remains recovered by the U.S. or turned over by North Korea.