Soldier’s remains coming home after 70 years as MIA

  • Courtesy photo Army Sergeant Kenneth Walker’s remains will be laid to rest in the Woodbury-Forest Cemetery in Madill on April 18 after being MIA for 50 years.
    Courtesy photo Army Sergeant Kenneth Walker’s remains will be laid to rest in the Woodbury-Forest Cemetery in Madill on April 18 after being MIA for 50 years.

Kenneth Walker, a soldier who was MIA in the Korean War is set to come home to his final resting place in Madill. On December 7, 1948, Kenneth Walker was only 22 days away from turning 18 when he enlisted in the Army.

In November 1950, Sergeant Walker and Charlie Company joined forces with the remaining unites assigned to the 31 st RCT. The units split into two sections setting up north of the Pungnyuri Inlet, and east of the Chosin Reservoir.

After many battles and setbacks, the remainder of the troops made their way to Hagaru-ri.

On the afternoon of December 2, Walker was reported MIA. The troops were forced to leave many of the wounded and dead behind because the enemy had control over the terrain.

Fast forward to July 27, 2018 after the June summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jongun. North Korea turned over 55 boxes containing the remains of American service members who were killed during the Korean War.

On August 1, 2018, the remains arrived at the Joint Base Pearl Harber-Hickman in Hawaii and began the identification process.

Scientists used anthropological analysis, accompanied with circumstantial and material evidence.

They also used DNA to identify the remains.

Walker was identified and his name was recorded in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

A rosette will be placed next to his name to denote that he has been accounted for.

The funeral to honor the fallen soldier is scheduled to be on April 18 at the Woodbury-Forest Cemetery in Madill.

Along with Walker’s family, there is one lady who is glad Walker finally gets to come home; Joe Ann Smith. Once word got out that Walker was located and being brought to Madill to be buried, she contacted The Madill Record and informed the staff that she and Walker dated.

Matter of fact, they were dating when he became MIA in the war.

She said they were not high school sweethearts, but close enough.

“I was a few grades behind him; I was in eighth and he was sophomore,” Smith said with a smile in her voice. “I had a crush on him. We didn’t date then, but we started dating after he came home for furlough.”

Smith said they corresponded by mail while he was in Korea.

She even said that Walker said in one of his letters that he did not believe he was going to make it home. Smith laughed it off and said he was crazy.

Unfortunately, that was one of the last letters she received.

Smith said she gave everything she had of Walker to his mother, save for one item.

“I gave his mother everything I had, letters and all,” Smith said, “except his pole-vaulting medal. I kept that sucker.”

She said when she heard that Walker’s remains were located, it “really shook her up.” Smith said she hopes to be able to make it to Madill for Walker’s funeral to be able to see him receive the respect he deserves.

Smith said since moving from Madill, she lost touch with the Walker family, and wondered how they were doing.

She gave The Madill Record permission to pass on her phone number to Walker’s nephew, in case he wanted to get in touch with her.

The Madill Record did in fact pass on her information and the nephew, Gary was more than happy to reach out.

Even though this was a sad event, an old friend got closure while making a new connection.