HAMPTON, Va. - The remains of a Hampton U.S. Army soldier killed during the Korean War have been identified decades later.
Army Sgt. Willie Rowe was 22-years-old when he became Missing in Action on November 25, 1950.
Rowe was a member of L Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was ordered to advance north towards the Ch'ongch'on River region of North Korea as part of preparations for an offensive to push the North Koreans to the Yala River.
By the night of November 25, the Chinese People's Volunteer Forces had begun relentless attacks which continued throughout the night and into the next morning.
After the battle was over, Rowe was missing.
After the war, four returning American prisoners reported Rowe died at the Hofung Camp, part of the Pukchin-Tarigol Camp Cluster in January 1951. Based on that information, the Army declared Rowe deceased as of January 20, 1951.
"He was captured and when he was captured he was put in a prisoner of war camp and he came down with pneumonia, starvation," his nephew, Charles McKeller Jr. told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.
In May 2005, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Central Identification Laboratory received remains that were recovered from a site south of the Pukchin-Tarigol POW Camp Cluster.
The remains of 11 individuals recovered from the site have been identified.
Scientists used mitochondrial DNA analysis to match Rowe's remains with his family members.
"It was surprising. I couldn't believe that after all these years, 67 years, that they actually found his remains," said another nephew, Melville Mauney.
"It was the greatest moment in our lives - all our lives because we are the last 4 survivors of him and we were just elated. Now we have closure to something that has been waiting for all these many years," niece Yvonne Perry commented.
Rowe was buried August 8 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
"They really live up to that word, we never leave a fallen comrade behind because they went the last extra mile to bring Willie home, to give this family closure," niece Myra Edwards told Corillo.
Rowe's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.