Halfway around the world, nearly a lifetime ago, a young corporal from rural Indiana was captured.
Robert Gene Archer was still a teenager in late 1950 when he was reportedly taken prisoner near the Chosin Reservoir in communist North Korea. The 19-year-old truck driver and infantryman would die in that place - far from his family, friends and home.
Now, Archer’s remains have been identified and returned to his hometown.
“It’s really good that they brought him home,” said Jim Archer, a nephew. “We’re just honored.”
Jim Archer and his cousin, John Archer, were too young to recall their uncle who died in the Korean War. But older relatives never forgot “Uncle Robert.”
“My mom and dad always talked about him,” said John Archer, standing outside the French Funeral Home in Brazil, where services are scheduled for Saturday morning. Burial will follow, with full military honors.
Archer is one of six U.S. veterans whose remains have been identified through DNA testing so far this year, according to the Defense Department. Before that happened on Jan. 14, he was among 88,000 servicemen and women considered missing in action from World War II through the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A contingent of veterans groups escorted Archer’s remains from the Indianapolis airport to the small city in eastern Indiana where Robert Archer attended high school and worked at Mohr’s Garage before enlisting in the U.S. Army.
The late corporal has been awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
Archer's family members still living in Clay County say having their uncle home brings a long-overdue sense of closure, satisfaction and pride.
“You’ve got to admire the people that go in the service and fight for our country,” said John Archer. “How can you not be proud?”
The Tribune Star in Terre Haute, Ind.