SAN DIEGO -- The remains of a decorated local war hero were returned home Saturday after six decades.
Army Major Jack Griffiths' son Joe was just 5 years old when his dad left to serve in the Korean War. Shaking and in tears, Saturday was the first time he had seen his father in 67 years, when the Major left for war in 1949.
According to his family, Griffiths never came home, as he died in a war camp and was buried overseas.
Michael Draper, a family friend, says it's been heartbreaking all these years Griffiths was gone, not knowing for sure if his remains would ever be found.
Griffiths' remains were at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and were exhumed in 2013. Three years later, a DNA analysis of the remains matched Griffiths' siblings. Now, after six decades, his family can finally have closure as he finally returns home.
"It was an emotional moment. It was a really strong moment and I think we all felt proud to be there for Joe and for his dad," said Michael Draper, a family friend. "This is the culmination of 60-plus years of effort, not only to return him to the U.S. but to identify him. That image of that casket returning to his hometown, to his family, but all of those people lined up for him was really something."
Griffiths will be laid to rest at Rosecrans National Cemetery this Wednesday.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said more than 80,000 Americans remain unaccounted for and 7,764 are from the Korean War. The United States is the only country that works daily to identify the unknown.