WASHINGTON (AP) - The remains of a U.S. Army corporal killed during the Korean War and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor have been identified 73 years after he was declared missing, President Joe Biden said Wednesday during a welcome ceremony at the White House for South Korea's president.
Luther H. Story of Buena Vista, Georgia, was last seen on Sept. 1, 1950 - wounded and fighting off North Korean attacks so his fellow soldiers could get to safety. U.S. officials said that Story "fearlessly stood in the middle of the road, throwing grenades" into a truck as his squad escaped.
"When last seen, he was firing every weapon available and fighting off another hostile assault," U.S. officials said.
He wasn't seen alive again, though his remains weren't found, and he wasn't taken as a prisoner. In 1951, Gen. Omar Bradley presented Story's father the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor, at a Pentagon ceremony in 1951. On Jan. 16, 1954, the corporal was declared unrecoverable — his remains still missing.
Then, in June 2021, 652 people killed in the Korean War were disinterred from the the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. In that process, scientists were able to identify Story using DNA, dental and anthropological analysis. His remains had been recovered near Sangde-po, South Korea.
"Today, we can return him to his family, and to his rest," Biden said from the South Lawn where he praised Story's bravery. "Because we never forget our troops."
On Tuesday evening, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife, Kim Keon Hee, made an evening stop to the Korean War Memorial with Biden and first lady Jill Biden. They participated in a wreath-laying ceremony next to the memorial’s Pool of Remembrance. While they were there, the leaders met with Story's living relative, his niece Judy Wade and her spouse Joseph Wade.
Both nations continue to work to identify all missing soldiers.