The remains of a U.S. Army soldier who went missing during the Korean War in 1950 were returned Wednesday to the Southland, where his family plans to bury him close to their home.
Army Pfc. Albert E. Quintero was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950.
According to the Department of Defense, Quintero was one of about 2,500 U.S. soldiers fighting alongside about 700 South Korean troops east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. The regiment came under attack by Chinese forces in late November 1950, forcing the troops to withdraw to the south.
By early December, about 1,500 wounded service members had been evacuated from the area, but Quintero was not among them.
He was reported missing, then declared killed in action in 1953.
His remains were found in 2001, and they were later identified using DNA.
A flag-draped coffin containing Quintero’s remains was flown to Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday morning. Quintero’s family was on hand for the arrival, and they took part in a procession transporting his coffin from the airport to All Souls Mortuary in Long Beach, where plans will be made for him to be buried near his mother.
“It’s just a beautiful feeling,” his niece, Alice Arviso, told ABC7. “It’s a feeling that — it makes us proud to know that our uncle is finally going to get the honor and the respect that he deserves.”
She said the family opted against burial at a military cemetery because they wanted him close to home.
“My mother and my grandmother are both devout Catholics, and it meant a lot for him to be buried at a Catholic (cemetery), especially being so close to my grandmother,” Arviso told the station.