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Family, friends pay final respects to local Korean War POW

Written by Jim Hook, Public Opinion Online | Oct 27, 2015 10:05 AM
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Army Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Lewis of the 3rd Infantry Regiment gives a flag to Shelva Moats, Mont Alto, the sister of Robert Meyers, on Monday, during a funeral service for Cpl. Robert Meyers. Meyers, of Greencastle, was killed during the Korean War and his remains were only recently identified. (Markell DeLoatch -- Publc Opinion)

(Arlington) -- Family, friends and fellow veterans paid their final respects Monday to Cpl. Robert Earl Meyers, a prisoner of war who died in Korea 65 years ago.

About 30 people gathered in Arlington Cemetery for the half hour ceremony.

"We're here to show respect to the family and the service of a veteran," said Rudy Freshman, commander of American Legion Post 373, Greencastle.

Meyers joined the Army when he was 17 and soon after on Dec. 1, 1950, was listed as missing in action. The Army declared him deceased in 1954, but his remains were never identified until this year. They had been interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii for 61 years.

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Pallbearers from the U.S. Army Old Guard carry the remains of Cpl. Robert Meyers during a funeral Monday, 65 years after his death, at Arlington National Cemetery. (Markell DeLoatch -- PublIc Opinion)

Meyers' photo hangs on the legion post wall in Greencastle. A group of 15 people from the legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6319, Sons of the American Legion, Leisure Riders and the legion auxiliary attended the service.

PHOTOS: Cpl. Robert Meyers laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery

VIDEO: Family and friends remember Cpl. Robert Meyers

Reporters were allowed to witness the ceremony, but were kept at a respectful distance to allow the family privacy. Reporters could hear little of the service. Six media outlets attended, including Voice of America broadcasting to Korea.

Meyers was buried with full military honors.

"It was more than I ever thought they'd do for someone that long ago," said Jack Mummert, 84, who enlisted with Meyers. "What's a good send off when you've been dead 60 or 65 years? It's closure I guess you'd call it."

Mummert, a native of Bino, lived just a few miles from Meyers when Meyers enlisted.

"He came over one night and said: I joined the Army," Mummert said. Mummert joked that he would join too to keep him company. The next day the two met the Army recruiter in the basement of the Greencastle Post Office. The recruiter handed Mummert paperwork and told him to fill it out.

"He was a man of authority," Mummert said. "I listened to him."

Meyers and Mummert never separated until Dec. 1, 1950, when the Chinese ambushed and overwhelmed A Company in a mountain pass in North Korea. Mummert last saw Meyers reaching back into the truck to get his M-1 rifle. Mummert went to the other side of the truck. He and 15 other men decided to sneak through the hills to Sonchu. They were among just 266 soliders of an original 977 who escaped death or capture that night.

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A caisson approaches the burial site Monday during a funeral service for Cpl. Robert Meyers at Arlington National Cemetery. Meyers was killed during the Korean War and his remains were recently identified. (Markell DeLoatch -- Public Opinion)

Meyers was captured and later died in a North Korean POW camp. Mummert finally learned the details of Meyers' fate in 2007 from a fellow soldier. The Department of Defense positively identified Meyers' remains on Sept. 4 using dental records and a chest x-ray.

Mummert's other Army buddy, Leslie Burris of Rolla, Missouri, also attended the service with his son, grandson and great-grandson.

Meyers' remains were carried Monday in a flag-draped casket on a horse-drawn caisson. The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" played the "Arlington Walk" as the horse-drawn caisson arrived at the grave site. The casket team carried the casket to the grave site as the band played "Abide with Me." Soldiers folded the flag with the band playing "America the Beautiful." U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Lewis of the Old Guard presented the folded flag to Meyers' sister, Shelva Moats of Mont Alto.

Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Gebo played taps. The firing line fired three rifle volleys.

"These sacred grounds are a lasting tribute to the men and women who have faithfully served our nation. Each named etched in stone and each stone a brick in the foundation of freedom upon which we stand today," Army Chaplain Lt. Col. Grace Hollis said. "I encourage you to remember this: No resting place at Arlington National Cemetery can be purchased. Each must be earned. In life he honored the flag. Now the flag will honor him."

Jim Hook can be reached at 717-262-4759.

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Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Gebo, U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own," plays taps during a funeral service for Cpl. Robert Meyers, Monday at Arlington National Cemetery. Meyers was killed during the Korean War and his remains were recently identified. (Markell DeLoatch -- PublIc Opinion)


This article comes to us through a partnership between Public Opinion Online and WITF. 

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