GREER, S.C. (WSPA) — The remains of a soldier killed in the Korean War were returned to the Upstate.
An honor guard escorted the remains of 18-year-old Private First Class Albert A. Gosnell off a plane at the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport Friday.
Gosnell was a member of Heavy Mortar Company, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division in the area of Taejon, South Korea in 1950. He was reported missing in action after his unit was forced to retreat on July 16, 1950. Due to heavy fighting, his body could not be recovered at the time, and he was presumed dead in 1953.
“This is an individual who felt strong enough about his community that he was willing to die for it and ultimately did,” Charles Sullivan, the vice president of operations for the Cremation Society of South Carolina-Westville Funerals, said.
The U.S. Army recovered remains from the area after regaining control of Taejon. Gosnell’s remains were declared unidentifiable, and he was later buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu with other Korean War Unknowns.
In July 2019, his remains were disinterred and sent to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory for analysis. Scientists were able to identify Gosnell through various means, including mitochondrial DNA, chest radiograph comparisons, and dental and anthropological analysis.
“It’s been a very long time,” Sullivan said. “He’s been known as X274 for 73 years.”
Once his remains were identified, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency connected with Gosnell’s family to return him to the Upstate.
“He got on a flight yesterday in Hawaii,” Sullivan said. “It was a direct flight to Atlanta, and then this morning, they left from Atlanta into Greenville-Spartanburg.”
Gosnell’s family was there as his casket was escorted off the plane. Meanwhile, travelers in the airport stood in silence paying tribute to him.
Leonard Moring was waiting to board his flight as the remains arrived at the airport. He told 7NEWS that moment hit close to home.
“My brother left for the Navy, and I didn’t see him for three or four years,” Moring explained. “When I finally saw him, I was in tears. I imagine what his family has gone through for more than 60 years.”
A memorial service will be held for Gosnell on Sunday, September 24 in the chapel of the Cremation Society of South Carolina-Westville Funerals at 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
A graveside service will be held for family and friends at the M.J. “Dolly” Cooper Veterans Cemetery in Anderson on September 29.