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Minnesota National Guard
After 63 Years, Minn. Family Lays Father to Rest at Fort Snelling

Minnesota National Guard ST PAUL, Minn- Typically funerals are a sad affair But at this one there is more joy than grief After 63 years, Gordon Hannah Jr laid his father to rest Wednesday

"I just prayed during my lifetime that we'd find him and get him home," he said

Hannah's father fought in the Korean War He went missing during a battle in South Korea He remembers the day his mother got the call

"It was just me and her and my little brother She just said, 'daddy's not coming home they can't find dad,'" Hannah said

In 1953, as part of a prisoner of war exchange, returning soldiers told those debriefing them that Hannah's dad died from dysentery in early 1951

In late 2000, a US/North Korean team excavated a burial site Hannah's dad's remains were recovered during the dig Fourteen years later he got a call two days before Thanksgiving

"I had tears and it was hard for me to keep talking My wife says, 'what's the matter?' I said 'they found', I didn't even finish the sentence she said 'they found your dad?' It was incredible," he said

Right now 7,865 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War

"The Department of Defense is trying to locate remains from WWII, Korea and Vietnam And they have people all over the world going through historical data and trying to find out where battles took place And also working with the governments of these countries to try to find the remains of our missing soldiers in action," Master Sergeant Gregory Byrd said

On Monday, Hannah took possession of his father's remains

On Wednesday, he buried him at Fort Snelling Cemetery with full military honors Hannah says he's proud of his dad

"He's my hero Hero when I was a kid and a hero today," he said

For his leadership and valor Hannah's father was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart, along with eight other medals for his service

January 7, 2015
Todd Wilson, KSTP
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