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ROCKY MOUNT — The remains of a Korean War veteran returned to Nash County on Thursday after 68 years.
The remains of Pfc. William Hoover Jones were recently recovered through joint efforts between the U.S. Defense Department, North Korean Army officials and Pentagon scientists. Remains of as many as 5,000 American soldiers killed in the Korean War still have not been identified.
Jones enlisted at age 18 as an infantryman in one of America’s last segregated units in 1950 and did not return home until now. A native of Red Oak, Jones was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division during the Korean War. He was reported missing in action in North Korea on Nov. 26, 1950 and declared dead by the Army on Dec. 31, 1953.
Jones was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
Last year, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea turned over 55 boxes containing remains of U.S. service members killed during the Korean War to the United States. Scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii later individually identified Jones among them.
Upon arrival to Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the family, select dignitaries and the U.S. Army Honor Guard from Fort Bragg, along with the Rocky Mount Police Department and Edgecombe and Nash County sheriff’s deputies escorted Jones’ hearse to H.D. Pope Funeral Home in Rocky Mount.
The public is invited to pay respects to Jones as he lies in honor in the state capitol from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Friday.
Gov. Roy Cooper will lay a wreath in his memory and present Jones’ family with United States and North Carolina flags flown over the state capitol. Cooper also will order flags to fly at half-staff from sunup to sundown on Friday in memory of Jones and all those who have fought overseas and never returned home.
A community memorial service will be conducted at 1 p.m. Sunday at Word Tabernacle Church, 821 Word Plaza in Rocky Mount. Pastor and state Rep. James D. Gailliard, D-Nash, will officiate with remarks offered by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, N.C. Military and Veterans Affairs Secretary Larry Hall and retired Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray.
Jones will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Aug. 22.
Hall, a former officer in the United States Marine Corps, will provide remarks at the memorial service in Rocky Mount. Hall described Jones as, “an ordinary American who exhibited extraordinary faith in America’s promise freedom and now he can be fully honored for making the ultimate sacrifice for all Americans.”
Jones is survived by three sisters, Ida Dickens, Thelma Jones Hilliard and Elizabeth Jones Ohree.