SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s a homecoming, nearly 70 years in the making. A local soldier finally made the journey home and is in his final resting place after vanishing in the Korean War.
The remains of Army Staff Sergeant Elden Justus were driven by motorcade from the Sacramento International Airport to his hometown in Arcata Monday evening.
Justus received a hero’s motorcade after a wartime mystery unraveled nearly 70 years later.
“It stunned me and I felt bad for him, not for me really,” said his son, Jack Justus.
Staff Sgt. Elden Justus was last seen directing his men to fend off an enemy attack while covering for the withdrawal of American forces in North Korea in 1950.
Jack was four years old at the time. His sister Lois was just a baby. But both always had a way of connecting with their father, even after he was declared dead in 1953.
“Our grandmother had a trunk full of his things to give to us when it was age appropriate to do so. His fishing pole, his camera,” said Lois Justus-Hyman. “We were just always aware of who he was. He was no mystery to us. Ever.”
That connection is even deeper now after his remains were recovered from a communal grave in North Korea and identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
With military honors, Staff Sgt. Justus arrived at Sacramento International Airport Monday.
“It’s closure for me and I believe it’s closure for my sister also,” Jack Justus said.
A hero’s homecoming, seven decades in the making, to a humble and grateful family.
“I’m proud of him,” Justus said. “I feel relief that we now know that he’s been found and he’s coming home.”
After his remains arrive in Arcata on Monday, they will lie in honor at Paul’s Chapel for public visitation on July 9 and 10. His funeral will take place at 11 a.m. July 11 at the Eureka Elks Lodge and he will be interred at the Greenwood Cemetery in Arcata.
While the search for Justus has now reached its conclusion, the DPAA said 7,652 Americans still remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.
Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by Korean officials, recovered from Korea by American recovery teams or disinterred from unknown graves, officials said.
Justus’ name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Honolulu, along with the others who are missing from the Korean War, according to the DPAA report.