Local soldier to be laid to rest
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Thursday, August 22, 2019
A military funeral is set for 9 a.m. today at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia for a local man who lost his life more than 68½ years ago fighting as an infantryman in the Korean War.
The service for U.S. Army Pfc. William Hoover Jones will be at the Fort Myer Old Post Chapel, which is adjacent to the cemetery. After the service, a horse-drawn caisson will be part of the procession into the cemetery and to the interment site.
Gregory Ohree, who is a nephew of Jones, was asked by the Telegram on Tuesday evening about him and fellow relatives having at least some closure.
“That’s the key word, closure, that we’ve been looking for for quite some time, even since we’ve known about this since last year, of July of last year,” Ohree said. “I know I’m going to have mixed emotions. I know my mother is going to have mixed emotions, along with her two surviving sisters as well, too.
“The main thing is we want to get closure about this,” he said. “It has been a long time.”
Jones, 19, was considered missing in action, but as a result of efforts by President Trump, North Korean Communist dictator Kim Jong-un in July 2018 released 55 coffins containing the remains of fallen U.S. soldiers.
Jones’ remains subsequently were identified with the help of DNA and military and X-ray records. Jones’ remains were kept in Hawaii before being flown to Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
On June 20, the remains were transported in a motorcade from the airport to H.D. Pope Funeral Home in downtown Rocky Mount, with the Patriot Guard Riders providing an escort.
Along the route on U.S. 64 through Nash County, local first responders set up along overpasses to pay tribute to the procession.
The next day, the remains were transported to Raleigh to lie in state at the state capital, where Gov. Roy Cooper read a proclamation and laid a wreath. A couple of days later, a memorial service was held at Word Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount.
Ohree, asked on Tuesday what will be going through his mind when his uncle is laid to rest today, said, “I’m just going to be relieved that he has finally come home.”
“And we want to make sure that he’s receiving an honorable farewell to what he has done in serving his country and fighting for his country,” Ohree said.
Ohree told of having seen Arlington National Cemetery in the past when riding in an automobile or a bus.
“And I never thought that one day, one of my family members would be buried in that particular place,” he said, noting he recalled the cemetery’s appearance and contour.
“But never in a long time, never in a million years, really, did I ever even imagine something like that,” he said. “And now it’s coming to fruition.”
Jim Taylor, past commander of the Rocky Mount-based American Legion Post 58, told the Telegram on Wednesday, “I am thankful to God that this has come to a conclusion with the family and that their wondering, their worrying, can come to an end — and know that he’s back home safe.”
As for Jones about to be buried in such a hallowed, revered place, Taylor said, “He earned it.”
“I’m thankful for him for what he did for his country — and supporting the Constitution and our way of government and fighting for our freedoms that so many people have and don’t realize the cost,” Taylor said.
“All of us veterans, we never forget — and we will never forget — our POW/MIAs, ever,” he said.
Charles Minton, commandant of the Cpl. Suzi Sannes Detachment 1262 of the Marine Corps League, on Wednesday noted the Marines having a motto of leaving no man behind and of trying to carry out all their dead and wounded from battle.
“And as a Marine myself and as a veteran even, it feels good that there’s closure for the family and that our fellow brother veteran will be laid to rest on American soil,” Minton told the Telegram. “It’s just a great feeling for me.”
Arlington National Cemetery’s website states between 27 to 30 services are conducted each weekday and between six to eight services are conducted each Saturday.
The cemetery is 624 acres in size and is the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families.