SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — As we celebrate Independence Day, we’re honoring a local veteran who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) recently helped identify the remains of a local Korean War soldier–Sergeant Lloyd Alumbaugh.
This story begins in the summer of 2018. Former President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to stop the country’s advance of nuclear weapons. Four key agreements were reached with this meeting, including turning over remains of U.S. Korean War soldiers.
Dr. Veronica Keyes, an anthropologist, was on the team that examined 55 boxes in North Korea.
“You’re going to North Korea, we’re going to get these boxes and I said okay and we just went,” said Keyes. “It was amazing and I was very honored to be a part of that, part of that process. Part of escorting them home. The caskets were all covered in American flags.”
After years of sorting through bones, piece by piece, a match was finally made. Last summer the DPAA identified Sergeant Alumbaugh.
Records show Alumbaugh went missing after his Medical Battalion was attacked in the winter of 1950. The forensic team confirmed that his remains were located near the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir and those soldiers endured temperatures -30 degrees and below.
“They were attacked at night, always at night,” said Wes Alumbaugh. “They’re weapons wouldn’t even work. They would jam. They were in a bad deal.”
Wes is Lloyd’s nephew and oldest living relative.
“We’ve had 12, 13, presidents,” said Wes. “I didn’t count them since he got killed and it took Trump to get him home.”
71 years after his uncle’s death, his family formally laid Lloyd to rest on June 25. COVID-19 delayed the ceremony by a year, but he was finally given full military honor and a motorcycle procession through town.
“The crowd is overwhelming,” said Wes. “Hard for me to talk about that. I didn’t think it would look like this here today to tell you the truth.”
Connie Hoover is Lloyd’s niece and she wasn’t born when he was alive but remembers her family telling her stories about her uncle.
“They’d jump in and get in an old pick up and drive in town looking for girls,” said Connie. “And what a wonderful skater my uncle was. All the girls wanted to skate with my uncle.”
“For people that may not have met the family member, like Segarent Alumbaugh’s niece, I’m sure they heard stories as they were growing up,” said Sean Everette, DPAA spokesperson. “So, it fills that hole or that niche of something that may have been missing.”
“Unfortunately, all of his siblings have passed, but they would be honored how we did this celebration today,” said Connie.
“They’re all gone, they don’t know about this day, except they’re looking down on him and know what finally happened,” said Wes.
“This is a part of our duty as Americans,” said Keyes. “This is something we do as Americans that no other country does. We will never stop looking for them. We’ll never stop trying to give their name and get them home.”
“Our military is working on this every day,” said Wes. “Nobody left behind as you said. They’re trying to find them.”
36,000 U.S. soldiers were killed in the Korean War and there are 7,500 service members still unaccounted for. Keyes believes some remains can still be recovered in North Korea.
DPAA has also identified a Bolivar soldier who was killed in Germany during World War II. Private James Cansler will be laid to rest on July 7, 2021, at the Veterans Cemetery in Springfield.