ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) – An Upstate soldier’s remains were returned home Tuesday after more than 71 years after his death. U.S. Army Corporal William “Billy” McCollum, of Anderson, died in the Korean War in 1950.
According to his obituary, McCollum was born on June 19, 1931 in Anderson. When he was 17-years-old, he was inducted into the U.S. Army at Fort Jackson. On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began and McCollum was transferred to the battle grounds. He was a member of Dog Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 31st Regimental Combat Team.
In November 1950, his unit reached the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea and endured repeated attacks from the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces before withdrawing on December 1.
On December 2, he was reported as missing in action, according to his obituary. He was declared dead on December 31, 1953, but the location of his body was unknown.
On July 27, 2018, following the summit between President Donald Trump and Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un, an agreement was reached to return 55 boxes of remains to the USA, according to his obituary.
The boxes were transported to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on August 1, 2018. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory then identified McCollums remains on September 11, 2019.
“And so all these years, it’s been 71 years and he finally came home today,” said McCollum’s sister Frankie Cain.
She explained how happy she was to see the outpouring of support from the Anderson community for her brother.
“It was an honor to see everybody here like that. It was a big surprise,” Cain said. “I wasn’t expecting that, but you know, they all showed up, and it was great.”
Her two sons sharing that same gratitude.
“It was really great to have everyone’s support,” said McCollum’s nephew Don Robinson.
“It was just an amazing experience all the way around,” McCollum’s other nephew, Wally Williams said. “From the airport, all the way back to here. Veterans who volunteered just to show their own respects.”
Corporal McCollum will lie in state on Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day at the McDougald Funeral Home.
The funeral service, with military honors, will be held at M.J. Dolly Cooper Veterans Cemetery on Saturday, June 19 at 1 p.m.