By Robin Rieger
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A military salute for Army Private George Porter, formerly of Philadelphia, is something his now 65-year-old nephew Robert Hawkins says his family has always hoped for over the last 60 years. Porter’s casket arrived at Philadelphia International Airport on Wednesday morning for his final journey home.
“I feel good; now we have the whole family together,” said Robert Hawkins, of Gibbsboro, NJ.
Hawkins says he was only three when his uncle, George Porter, enlisted in the Army. Not long after, he was sent to Korea.
“The only thing I really knew about him was he liked sports,” said Hawkins.
Porter was declared missing in action two years later following a battle in Hoengsong, according to the Department of Defense.
“[My family] would talk about him at holiday times, wishing he was there,” Hawkins remembered.
Some remains found at a POW camp matched DNA Hawkins and his 96-year-old mother had sent in a year and a half ago. Hawkins got the news just before Christmas.
“They said, ‘We matched up a body.’ They didn’t have all of the remains, but it was [my mother’s] brother,” Hawkins explained.
Unfortunately, due to Alzheimer’s disease, Hawkins’ mother remains unaware of the discovery.
“What’s most important is letting them know they’re not forgotten,” said Korean War veteran Charles Crain. He didn’t know Porter but was friends with his uncle.
Hawkins says that Porter’s mother stayed in touch with the government regularly and was always hoping for word on her son.
“It’s a shame she didn’t know they finally found her son,” he said.
Porter will be buried next to his parents, another sister and his brother in Feasterville on Friday.
“It just makes you feel better that he finally made it home–all the way home,” Hawkins said.
The Department of Defense says 1.8 million U.S. service members participated in the Korean War. Over 36,000 died, and over 7,900 are still missing.