BUTLER, Pa. - After almost 70 years after he was killed in combat, a U.S. Army corporal was laid to rest Saturday after his remains were brought home to Butler.
Cpl. James T. “Tommy” Mainhart was just 19 years old when his Army picture was taken. His family members have known for decades that he died on Nov. 30, 1950, in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, but they had little hope of ever being able to bring him home.
The day the family had been waiting for finally arrived on Thursday, a day after weather forced the delay of the flight that brought Mainhart home.
On Saturday, American Legion riders lined the streets as military members carried Mainhart's casket.
"This was miraculous," said Helen Mildren, of the American Legion Riders. "They didn't think that they would ever be able to bring Corporal Mainhart home."
Mainhart's remains were found with the help of DNA and a persistent nephew.
“It's emotional, that's for sure. It's been a day we been waiting for for years and it's finally here today,” Tom Mainhart, the corporal’s nephew, said Thursday. “I thought this wasn't going to happen in my lifetime, and in December I got a phone call. They said they found his remains and wanted to send him home."
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Mainhart had been trying for almost 20 years to locate his uncle’s remains to have them returned home. He said he was motivated by his heartbroken grandmother.
American Legion Riders from around the area were at Pittsburgh International Airport to support a fellow veteran.
“It really gives you a sense of pride, and you can't do it without a tear in your eye,” Jim Miller, a Butler County American Legion Rider, said on Thursday.
Tom Mainhart said his uncle could have been buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but his family chose to bring him back to Butler, where he was buried Saturday with full military honors.
More than 54,000 Americans were killed in Korea. About 7,800 are still unaccounted for.
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