Remains of Korean War soldier, Cincinnati native to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery

The remains of a Cincinnati soldier killed during the Korean War will be laid to rest Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 9:22 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2022 at 10:21 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The remains of a Cincinnati soldier killed during the Korean War will be laid to rest Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Cpl. Charles Lee was missing in action for years, and now because of new advancements in DNA testing, he’s been identified and will be laid to rest.

The family said they can finally have peace after nearly 70 years.

“I wish my mother and my uncle could have been here. I wish that science could of found a way earlier but I am glad that it is happening —he will be with them now,” niece of Cpl. Lee, Mary Werner, said.

Werner’s husband, Joe, said the family doesn’t have any pictures of Cpl. Lee but they do have several ribbons of honor and two Purple Hearts.

“I can only speak for myself but I think there’s more to a human being than the photos and the relics and whatever. It’s the spirit of the person and the memory,” he said.

Mary said her mother was never allowed to watch movies about the Army or war growing up because it was triggering for her and the unanswered questions she lived and died with.

Cpl. Lee was reported missing in action in 1950 when he was just 18-years--old.

“Because he became missing at such a young age he didn’t really get a chance to have a life, he never had a chance to enjoy anything and I know that he was a real hero,” Mary said.

He was declared non-recoverable in 1956.

“My one uncle joined the service and went to Korea to actually go look for his brother,” Mary said.

Her uncle donated his DNA to the Army before he died. That DNA is how Cpl. Lee was identified last year - a gift of peace to generations of the family.

“He’s not going to be ‘unknown’ anymore. He’s been ‘unknown’ for 70 years,” she said.

Historians and anthropologists teamed up in 2018 to identify hundreds of Korean War unknown burials from the Punchbowl, a national memorial cemetery in Hawaii.

Mary said two farmers in South Korea buried Cpl. Lee and another soldier after he was killed.

“He was killed by bullets, one to the head and one to the hip area, and so he died instantly,” Joe said.

Mary said in 1951 the Army buried his remains in Hawaii and Cpl. Lee wasn’t identified until 2021.

“He never really had a chance to live, but he did something great so I’m glad that at least his memory will live on and other people will see that,” she said.

Mary said she’s happy she finally gets to lay her uncle to rest on Monday and get the proper ceremony he always deserved.

More than 7,000 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

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