The homecoming more than a generation in the waiting finally happened this week.
The remains of Pfc. Daniel Hunt, who was killed in Korea in 1951, are back in the United States more than a half-century after the conflict ended.
“He’s still 18 to me,” said Delphine Kile, Hunt’s niece and the only family member still alive who ever met Hunt. Hunt, from Lapeer County, Mich., will be buried in Phoenix because Kile lives in the Valley.
“Our hope is to have MIA [and] POW families … know that there is hope,” Kile’s daughter, Debra Gauthier, said.
“The family’s missed him all of our lives,” Gauthier said.
Hunt, who was 18, died on Heartbreak Ridge, according to the military. He was declared missing in action in 1951 and killed in action in 1953, but his remains were never recovered.
Two of Hunt’s 16 siblings gave a DNA sample in 2003, with the hope that Hunt might eventually be identified.
After South Korea turned over a set of remains this year, a DNA match was discovered, and Hunt’s trip home was set in motion.
Hunt was honored at a funeral Friday at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.