A homecoming 67 years in the making: Family says goodbye to soldier

Published: Aug. 18, 2018 at 10:59 PM EDT
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At just 20 years old, he made the ultimate sacrifice. Army Pfc. Joe Stanton Elmore died during the Korean War.

For decades, his remains were unidentified and buried overseas. Last month, DNA helped official identify the Kentucky native, and, Saturday, he was laid to rest in his family's cemetery.

"You don't know how hard it was to drive. I had more tears than I ever have," Lester Beaty, Elmore's nephew, said, referencing the drive from Nashville, where Elmore's remains were flown to, back to the Bluegrass State.

It was a homecoming 67 long years in the making. Missing in action, Private First Class Joe Elmore made his final trip home, greeted by a tearful army of folks who waited nearly seven decades for this.

"I would not trade that escort for nothing in the world," Beaty said. "We wanted a homecoming for Joe, and we got one. It was fantastic, all the way from Nashville to Albany, even the service today was phenomenal."

At 20 years old, Elmore left home for Korea, making a sacrifice. Paying the ultimate one, family calls his return to the Bluegrass bittersweet.

"It's was a happy sad, but now it's a relief; We've finally got him in the ground next to his relatives. I know Joe is smiling down right now because he's laying beside my dad, so I know he's happy."

Saturday, a service honored him and the heart he had for service, deeming him the hero family has always considered him.

"We as a family, I don't know, we are just flabbergasted by the, the was a hero for us, but he's a hero for everybody now."