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Remains of Korean War vet arrive in St. Louis en route to Illinois burial

Remains of Korean War vet arrive in St. Louis en route to Illinois burial

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ST. LOUIS — The remains of a U.S. Army soldier who fought in the Korean War were transported to St. Louis on Monday en route to his final resting place in Illinois.

Cpl. Asa E. Vance was returned to his family more than 70 years after leaving Decatur, Illinois, to fight on the Korean peninsula.

“That’s a long time to be away from your country,” said his niece, Alma Andrews.

Andrews was on hand when Vance’s remains were released from an American Airlines cargo hold at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, carried by an honor guard to a waiting hearse and escorted by a contingent of Patriot Guard Riders and State Highway Patrol to Decatur.

Funeral services with full military honors for Vance will be at noon Friday in the First Christian Church in Springfield, with the burial at 2 p.m. in Camp Butler National Cemetery, Springfield.

“It’s going to be an interesting day, that’s for sure,” Andrews said.

Vance was a member of Company D, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, and was reported missing in action Dec. 2, 1950, near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea after his unit was attacked by enemy forces.

Vance, who was 18 years old when he went missing, was listed as presumed dead by the Army in 1954. Still, family members continued to hold out hope for his safe return.

In a Decatur Daily Review article at the time, his mother said “everyone holds out hope” about those missing still being alive.

A 2018 meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un resulted in more than 55 boxes of war-dead remains being turned over to the United States. Some boxes of remains were recovered from the area of the Chosin Reservoir and were consistent with where Vance was reported missing in action. Analysts eventually identified Vance among the remains.

Andrews, another niece, his brother and a nephew were located by the military to conduct DNA testing. “That’s how they traced Asa back to us,” Andrews said.

Vance’s return to Central Illinois was delayed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Andrews, who lives in Decatur, said most of the surviving family are attempting to be at Friday’s services to honor Vance.

He was one of 15 children, all of whom have died. “There was quite a bunch,” Andrews said.

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