NATIONAL NEWS

‘He’s home’: Missing 73 years, Medal of Honor recipient’s remains return to Georgia

May 28, 2023, 10:00 PM | Updated: May 29, 2023, 6:10 am

This undated photo shows the late Army Cpl. Luther H. Story. The Army said Friday, May 19, 2023, th...

This undated photo shows the late Army Cpl. Luther H. Story. The Army said Friday, May 19, 2023, that the remains of Cpl. Luther H. Story will be buried May 29 at Andersonville National Cemetery near the soldier's hometown of Americus, Georgia. President Joe Biden announced last month that scientists had positively identified Story's remains. (U.S. Army via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(U.S. Army via AP)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Soldiers of the 9th Infantry Regiment made a desperate retreat as North Korean troops closed in around them. A wounded, 18-year-old Army Pfc. Luther Herschel Story feared his injuries would slow down his company, so he stayed behind to cover their withdrawal.

Story’s actions in the Korean War on Sept. 1, 1950, would ensure he was remembered. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, which is now displayed alongside his portrait at the National Infantry Museum, an hour’s drive from his hometown of Americus, Georgia.

But Story was never seen alive again, and his resting place long remained a mystery.

“In my family, we always believed that he would never be found,” said Judy Wade, Story’s niece and closest surviving relative.

That changed in April when the U.S. military revealed lab tests had matched DNA from Wade and her late mother to bones of an unidentified American soldier recovered from Korea in October 1950. The remains belonged to Story, a case agent told Wade over the phone. After nearly 73 years, he was coming home.

A Memorial Day burial with military honors was scheduled Monday at the Andersonville National Cemetery. A police escort with flashing lights escorted Story’s casket through the streets of nearby Americus on Wednesday after it arrived in Georgia.

“I don’t have to worry about him anymore,” said Wade, who was born four years after her uncle went missing overseas. “I’m just glad he’s home.”

Among those celebrating Story’s return was former President Jimmy Carter. When Story was a young boy, according to Wade, his family lived and worked in Plains on land owned by Carter’s father, James Earl Carter Sr.

Jimmy Carter, 98, has been under hospice care at his home in Plains since February. Jill Stuckey, superintendent of the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park, said she shared the news about Story with Carter as soon as she heard it.

“Oh, there was a big smile on his face,” Stuckey said. “He was very excited to know that a hero was coming home.”

Story grew up about 150 miles (241 kilometers) south of Atlanta in Sumter County, where his father was a sharecropper. As a young boy, Story, who had a keen sense of humor and liked baseball, joined his parents and older siblings in the fields to help harvest cotton. The work was hard, and it didn’t pay much.

“Momma talked about eating sweet potatoes three times a day,” said Wade, whose mother, Gwendolyn Story Chambliss, was Luther Story’s older sister. “She used to talk about how at night her fingers would be bleeding from picking cotton out of the bolls. Everybody in the family had to do it for them to exist.”

The family eventually moved to Americus, the county’s largest city, where Story’s parents found better work. He enrolled in high school, but soon set his sights on joining the military in the years following World War II.

In 1948, his mother agreed to sign papers allowing Story to enlist in the Army. She listed his birthdate as July 20, 1931. But Wade said she later obtained a copy of her uncle’s birth certificate that showed he was born in 1932 — which would have made him just 16 when he joined.

Story left school during his sophomore year. In the summer of 1950 he deployed with Company A of the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment to Korea around the time the war began.

On Sept. 1, 1950, near the village of Agok on the Naktong River, Story’s unit came under attack by three divisions of North Korean troops that moved to surround the Americans and cut off their escape.

Story seized a machine gun and fired on enemy soldiers crossing the river, killing or wounding about 100, according to his Medal of Honor citation. As his company commander ordered a retreat, Story rushed into a road and threw grenades into an approaching truck carrying North Korean troops and ammunition. Despite being wounded, he continued fighting.

“Realizing that his wounds would hamper his comrades, he refused to retire to the next position but remained to cover the company’s withdrawal,” Story’s award citation said. “When last seen he was firing every weapon available and fighting off another hostile assault.”

Story was presumed dead. He would have been 18 years old, according to the birth certificate Wade obtained.

In 1951, his father received Story’s Medal of Honor at a Pentagon ceremony. Story was also posthumously promoted to corporal.

About a month after Story went missing in Korea, the U.S. military recovered a body in the area where he was last seen fighting. The unidentified remains were buried with other unknown service members at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 7,500 Americans who served in the Korean War remain missing or their remains have not been identified. That’s roughly 20% of the nearly 37,000 U.S. service members who died in the war.

Remains of the unknown soldier recovered near Agok were disinterred in 2021 as part of a broader military effort to determine the identities of several hundred Americans who died in the war. Eventually scientists compared DNA from the bones with samples submitted by Wade and her mother before she died in 2017. They made a successful match.

President Joe Biden announced the breakthrough April 26 in Washington, joined by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

“Today, we can return him to his family,” Biden said of Story, “and to his rest.”

National News

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to speak on third day of the ...

Associated Press

GOP vice presidential pick Vance talks Appalachian ties in speech as resentment over memoir simmers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Newly minted vice presidential nominee JD Vance built his Wednesday night speech to the Republican National Convention around his own Appalachian roots, but it wasn’t the first time he had shared his personal story. Long before he was a U.S. senator from Ohio, Vance rose to prominence on the wings of […]

5 minutes ago

Gracie Wiener poses for a photo with some of her tote bags in Washington Square Park in New York, W...

Associated Press

Historic utility AND high fashion. 80-year-old LL Bean staple finds a new audience as a trendy bag

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) — L.L. Bean created it 80 years ago to haul heavy blocks of ice. Now it’s a must-have summer fashion accessory. The simple, sturdy canvas bag called the Boat and Tote is having an extended moment 80 years after its introduction, thanks to a social media trend in which they’re monogrammed with […]

9 minutes ago

Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg addresses the audience during a Rays press conference in the ...

Associated Press

City council vote could enable a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark — and the old site’s transformation

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A key city council vote Thursday on a major redevelopment project in St. Petersburg could pave the way to give baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays a new ballpark, which would guarantee the team stays for at least 30 years. The $6.5 billion project, supporters say, would transform an 86-acre (34-hectare) tract […]

11 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump attends the first day of the Republ...

Associated Press

Too soon for comedy? After attempted assassination of Trump, US politics feel anything but funny

Political jokes: too soon? The answer from many quarters at midweek was a resounding yes, days after an assassination attempt against Republican former president Donald Trump rattled the nation over political violence that has been brewing in the United States for decades. Several late-night shows that thrive on political comedy changed plans immediately, with Comedy […]

14 minutes ago

Gov. Doug Burgum, R-ND., speaks during the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, July 17, 20...

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: A look at Biden’s economic policies related to rising prices

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s economic policies have been slammed by several speakers at the Republican National Conference. But some of the criticism was off base. Here’s a look at the facts. ___ North Carolina Gov. Doug Burgum on the economy: “Biden’s red tape has raised the price of the gas in your car, […]

31 minutes ago

Gold Star family members on stage during the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, July 17, ...

Associated Press

Families of service members killed during Afghanistan withdrawal criticize Biden at GOP convention

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Relatives of some of the 13 American service members killed during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan appeared on stage at the Republican National Convention Wednesday in an emotional moment that revived one of the low points of President Joe Biden’s presidency. Many of the Gold Star families have criticized Biden for never […]

2 hours ago

‘He’s home’: Missing 73 years, Medal of Honor recipient’s remains return to Georgia