THOMASVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — A soldier who lost his life in the Korean War was laid to rest and given a proper goodbye on Friday.
Army Cpl. Rex W. Powell, 18, of Valdese, North Carolina, was reported missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950, after his unit was attacked by enemy forces in North Korea.
Now, nearly three-quarters of a century since he was declared missing in action, the Army has identified Powell’s remains.
“It’s been 73 years,” said Jatonna Garner, Powell’s niece. “My grandmother didn’t have closure, my mom passed away she didn’t have any closure, but we do now so that’s all that matters, that he’s finally home.”
Powell was 17 years old when he decided to enlist.
His mother would not sign up for him at the recruiting station. However, her brother-in-law did.
Powell was a rifleman, he quickly was deployed with his battalion to Korea where he shortly after was declared missing in action.
“It was a very short amount of time,” said Garner. “His battalion was shipped to the worst place they could have gone.”
After a memorial service in Thomasville, Rolling Thunder escorted Powell to be buried at the Salisbury National Cemetery with full military honors.
It was the least Garner could do, a final act of kindness for an uncle she never knew, but always admired.
“It means the world to me and my family,” said Garner. “He laid down his life, he was 18 years old, he didn’t get married, he didn’t get to have children, we never got to interact with him.”
Powell’s name is recorded at the Honolulu Memorial at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, along with other soldiers who are still missing. A rosette will be placed by his name to indicate that he has been accounted for.
“He made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Garner. “It means the absolute world to us that we’re able to do this for him.”