US soldier’s remains returned home, 60 years later

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Army Cpl. James Stroup of St. Louis died in a North Korean prison camp 60 years ago. Now, finally, his remains have returned home.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a military honor guard carried Stroup’s remains to a waiting hearse on Wednesday at Lambert Airport. It is part of an effort by the military to locate, identify and return the remains of those missing in action, no matter how long ago they died.

“It’s the U.S. government living up to its promise that no one is left behind,” said Larry Greer, spokesman for the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office. “Many times it takes us 70 years to fulfill that promise, but hopefully the family will see that we’ll do whatever we can to bring some closure to them.”

Stroup was serving with the 2nd Infantry Division on Feb. 12, 1951, when his unit came under attack. He was reported missing in action. A year later, his family was notified that he had been captured. And a year after that notification, the family learned Stroup was on a list of those who died in captivity.

Stroup enlisted in the Army in 1948, according to a Post-Dispatch story from the time. He served a year and was called back to duty in September 1950.

In his last letter home, written that December, he told of being treated in a hospital for frostbite to both feet.

Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the U.S. 208 boxes believed to contain the remains of 200 to 400 U.S. servicemen. About 16 years ago, a Stroup family member provided the military with a DNA sample.

Scientists used that sample, along with dental records and other forensic identification tools and evidence, to make a match. The family was notified last year.

Larry Stroup, 55, of St. Louis, said he never knew his half-brother but heard stories about him growing up. Finding out what had become of her stepson became very important to his mother, Larry Stroup said.

James Stroup will be buried with full military honors Saturday at Laurel Hill Cemetery, where his father is buried nearby. His mother, Verna Breckenridge, now lives in Florida and is unable to travel for the funeral.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to know that he has served his mission and now is being put to rest,” said Guy Stroup, 63, of Atoka, Tenn., another half-brother.

The military said 7,997 service members remain missing from the Korean War. More than 83,000 remain missing from American conflicts dating to World War II.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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