JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- A Korean War veteran who died in a POW camp in 1951 returned home to family and was laid to rest at the Jacksonville National Cemetery on Thursday.
"We affectionately called Joe Howard, 'Uncle Bubba'," said his niece Bevery Moreland. "We knew he went off to war and never came home. It is an honor for him to come back. The family is all here in Jacksonville"
Moreland was one of several nieces and nephews attending the memorial service today at the Jacksonville National cemetery for their uncle.
Army Cpl. Joe Howard was captured in the Korean War and died at the infamous POW Camp 5 on the China/North Korean border. He was one of many who never made it back. His family says he died of malnutrition and severe winter temperatures.
"It was very cruel to be starved to death, dying from the elements because it was snowing and freezing. He was not properly dressed," said Moreland. "They were chained together. When they died they just threw them in a hole. It was horrible."
Howard's unidentifiable remains were handed over in 1954 in an exchange of war dead by the Chinese, who captured him. He was buried in Hawaii at the National Cemetery at Pearl Harbor. Then in 2012 his remains were dug up. Moreland and her aunt and daughter provided DNA to the military, and he was positively identified.
Retired sailor Dave Seamans was one of several veterans on hand to pay their respects to Howard.
"To me it is closure, it is closure, honor and recognition. He gave the ultimate sacrifice and in doing so we need to give our honors and recognition to him," said Seamons.
Moreland said her family was in awe of the honor and recognition her uncle has received since his return home.
First Coast News