INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — A U.S. soldier who died as a POW during the Korean War received full military honors in a hometown funeral attended by family members who feared the day might never come.
Army Sgt. Lee Henderson Manning, whose remains were recently identified, was finally laid to rest near his mother at Inglewood Park Cemetery near Los Angeles after a service that included presentations by representatives of South Korea and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. An Army honor guard fired rifles in salute, and the flag from the casket was presented to Manning's sisters, Carrie Elam and Helena Parker.
"My heart is very full," Elam told reporters. "I never ever thought that it would come to fruition like this."
Manning was just 20 years old when he enlisted right out of high school in 1950 and trained as a medic. He had hoped to become a doctor someday.
Returning prisoners of war reported Manning was captured by Chinese forces while rendering aid to members of the 9th Infantry Regiment during a 1950 battle. He died six months later from medical neglect.
The government notified the family this summer that DNA testing confirmed the identity of remains provided by North Korea.
The Rev. Dr. Ronnie Jones pointed out that Manning eagerly went overseas to fight for freedoms that he as a black man was denied back home. The positive identification and now the funeral allow the family to stop questioning and have peace after 63 years, Jones said.
"This finally brings an end to the pain they've been enduring for some time," he said.
A representative from the Consulate General of South Korea presented family members with that country's Ambassador for Peace Medal. It was added to a table displaying Manning's military citations, including a Purple Heart, Combat Medical Badge and National Defense Service Medal.
Elam said her brother has provided a legacy for generations of Mannings that came after him.
"It's such a joy," she said of the service. "I know I can keep this in my memory bank forever."
More than 7,000 Americans are still unaccounted for from the Korean War. Modern technology allows identifications to continue to be made from remains turned over by North Korea or recovered from that nation by American teams, according to the Defense Department.