It has been 66 years since Roy Henderson has been on American soil. We live in an unrecognizable United States to the one the private first class left, but he has never been forgotten. He was finally welcomed home to the Ohio Valley on Wednesday after being killing in action, declared MIA in July of 1950.
“It’s closure for the family, and not only for the family, but for the veterans who fight on a daily basis,” said casualty assistance officer SFC Bradley Maston. “We want to see our brothers and sisters come back home and be where they belong.”
Passengers crowded the small windows of the Delta flight coming in from Atlanta. It was the last leg of the Army veteran’s long journey from Korea, Japan, Honolulu, then, back to the mainland United States. His final resting place, Follansbee, WV, where his body was met by dozens of volunteers and well wishers.
“All of our men and women that have served, this is the least we can do for them. They have sacrificed their life and some of them haven’t come back at all. This man was 18 years old, was killed in Korea, and wasn’t found until last year, and that’s 65 years that his family has been waiting for him to come home,” said ride captain for district 6 of the West Virginia Patriot Guard Riders Susan Whitlatch.
Whitlatch and her husband have participated in hundred of services ranging from funeral escorts, to parades, but this was extra special.
James Funeral Home owner and director, Eric Fithyan, who honors veterans and active duty military members throughout this year says this is something he was also honored to be part of.
“Everyday you might have thought, ‘well maybe somebody forgot, maybe somebody didn’t remember about him being a missing in action soldier,’ but when we heard the news and were able to say, ‘we will remember and we will always remember,’ that’s the significance of it,” Fithyan added.
A private service for the veteran will be held later this week.