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U.S. soldier killed in Korean War finally returns home

David Milano was born in 1932 in Chicago, Illinois. After enlisting in the United States Army at the age of 17 he was deployed to fight in the Korean War. Nine months after enlisting, Milano was reported as missing in action in North Korean territory on December 2nd, 1950.

He became one of the thousands of American soldiers that never returned home from Korea. Milano’s nephew, David Jordan, never met his uncle, but he says his mother, Milano’s sister, kept his memory alive.

“He was a protector of my mother. My mother was blind at the age of 12, and so he had that extra sense of being a caretaker. She's always been the driving force of keeping him and his memory alive,” said Jordan.

In 2018, the United States brokered a repatriation deal with the North Korean government. As a part of this agreement the remains of American soldiers from the Korean War were returned. Using DNA analysis, Milano’s remains were identified.

“This day’s been long coming. But something that we've lived with our whole life, waiting for David to be returned,” said Jordan.

After 70 years without closure, on Friday April 29th David’s family finally laid him to rest next to his mother and sister at Evergreen Cemetery in Ogden.

Jordan said his mother never lost hope that her brother would return.

“My mother knew this day would come without a doubt. And when she bought the burial sites here at the cemetery, she bought four plots, one for her mother, one for my father, and one for her. And the fourth one was, “that's for Uncle David when they return him,” and she bought those plots in the early 80s. And the last day my mother was alive, my brother, and myself, we reassured her we are keeping this plot open so when David gets returned, he has his place next to her,” said Jordan.

To this day, more than 7,500 American soldiers are unaccounted for from the Korean War. But now a rosette will be placed next to David’s name on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Max is a neuroscientist and science reporter. His research revolves around an underexplored protein receptor, called GPR171, and its possible use as a pharmacological target for pain. He reports on opioids, outer space and Great Salt Lake. He loves Utah and its many stories.