HARRISBURG, Pa. — The remains of a soldier who died in the Korean War were returned home to central Pennsylvania more than six decades after his death.
A casket carrying the remains of Pfc. Walter Hackenberg arrived in Harrisburg on Monday. WNEP-TV reported Hackenberg was declared dead in 1951 at the age of 22 while he was a prisoner of war in the Korean Peninsula.
Hackenberg’s sister, Stella Knepp, said she always assumed his body was somewhere in Korea. She told WNEP-TV she found out the Army was asking families of lost service members to give DNA samples to help identify unknown remains back in 2000.
In August, the Army notified Knepp and her family that it had positively identified Hackenberg’s remains.
The Army said Hackenberg’s remains were sent to Hawaii after the war. The military offered to bury his remains at any national cemetery, but his family opted to have him buried in his hometown — where he already has a tombstone.
“I know it doesn’t bring him back, but it brings closure to what we’ve been thinking about all this time,” Knepp said.
A funeral with full military honors is scheduled for Thursday.
Information from: WNEP-TV, http://www.wnep.com