The remains of a Korean War veteran are back in his hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 65 years after he died, thanks to his nephew's 11-year effort seeking their return.
The remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Ronald Sparks were flown from Hawaii to Logan International Airport on Tuesday. Sparks died in a North Korean POW camp in May 1951 at age 20.
"The worst part of that is we never knew where. His parents never knew if he was even buried in a grave what happened to him," Bob Sparks, his nephew said.
Sparks' remains had been interred at a military lab until he recently was identified through DNA testing. His nephew will forever remember the call confirming he had been positively identified.
"My throat tightened, my eyes welled up and I had to call back because I couldn’t speak," Sparks said. "It was such overwhelming joy that I just couldn't speak."
Family members, veterans and city officials were among the crowd that lined Massachusetts Avenue Tuesday to pay tribute as his remains passed by.
Sparks says he made it his mission to locate his uncle's remains following a deathbed plea from his father. He only met his uncle once, the night before he shipped out.
"Eleven years after my dad asked me to find him, we found him," Sparks said. "And today he's home back here in Cambridge."
A wake for Cpl. Sparks will be held Thursday at DeVito Funeral home in Arlington. He will be buried Friday in Everett with full military honors.