Remains of long-missing soldier coming home to Mississippi

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GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi family will hold a funeral next month for a soldier who died during the Korean War.

The remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Joe T. Avant were identified in September.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reported a funeral is set for Dec. 13 in Avant’s hometown of Greenwood.

“He will have the same military honors of someone who is killed in war today,” said his younger sister, Delores Moore.

Avant was 20 when he was reported missing in action in 1950. He was declared dead in 1953.

In July, the U.S. received 55 boxes containing remains of American service members lost during the Korean War. Avant’s remains were identified from that.

“We are so thankful as a family that we are getting this closure after 69 years,” Moore said. “We are so grateful. Our desire is to honor our brother.”

Avant’s remains will arrive in Jackson a couple of days before the funeral. Moore said many members of the Avant family will drive to the Jackson airport for a ceremony by Army members from Fort Polk, Louisiana.

A convoy of vehicles and the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcycle riders consisting of active and retired military service members, will accompany the hearse from Jackson to Greenwood.

“The Army has been so supportive of us as a family during this process,” Moore said.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s personnel profile of Avant states, “In 2018, the North Korean government repatriated 55 boxes containing the remains of American service members lost during the Korean War. One box contained remains recovered from the east side of the Chosin Reservoir, which made an association with Cpl. Avant feasible.”

To identify Avant’s remains, scientists used anthropological analysis and circumstantial and material evidence. Scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA and autosomal DNA and analysis.

Members of the Avant family had provided DNA samples to the Department of Defense about 20 years ago.

Avant deployed in late 1950. He served in the Heavy Mortar Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. His unit was part of the 31st Regimental Combat Team during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950, near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when his unit was attacked. After the battle, his remains could not be recovered.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reports more than 7,600 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.`

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