Saturday, November 29, 2008

Welcome home Ranger Cpl. Librado Luna

Soldier Missing in Action from Korean War is Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He is Cpl. Librado Luna, U.S. Army, of Taylor, Texas. He will be buried on Nov. 25 in Taylor.
Representatives from the Army's Mortuary Office met with Luna's next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process, and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.
In late November 1950, Luna was assigned to the 8th Army Ranger Company, 25th Infantry Division, then attached to B Company, 89th Medium Tank Battalion as part of Task Force Dolvin. The 8th Army Ranger Company was deployed on Hill 205 in Kujang County along the leading edge of the U.S. position. On November 25, the Chinese Army struck in force in what would become known as the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River. Task Force Dolvin, including the 8th Army Ranger Company, was forced to withdraw to the south. Of the 91 men from B Company, 89th Medium Tank Battalion and the 8th Army Ranger Company, only 22 made it to safety. Ten men, including Luna, went missing on November 26 near Hill 205.
In 1998, a joint U.S.-Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (D.P.R.K.) team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), excavated a burial site in Kujang County where a girl had uncovered possible American remains on a hill near her school. The site correlates with the area where members of the 8th Army Ranger Company fought as part of Task Force Dolvin. The team recovered human remains and non-biological material evidence.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of Luna's remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at or call (703) 699-1420.

Family happy to finally bid soldier proper farewell

Family happy to finally bid soldier proper farewell
Updated: 11/24/2008 7:43:47 PM
By: Karina Kling

It's been nearly 60 years since one Central Texas soldier went missing during a Korean War battle.

But Saturday the remains of Army Cpl. Librado Luna were
brought home.

His family will finally give him a proper burial Tuesday, decades late. They said it's been a long journey, 58 years in the making.

It was the early stages of the Korean War, late November 1950, when Pvt. 1st Class Cpl. Luna found himself on the front lines of a battle on historic Hill 205, which would later be known as the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River.
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Members of the 8th Army Ranger Company, part of the 25 Infantry Division, were under attack from the Chinese army.

As soldiers were ordered to get off the hill, Luna was one of four in his company who remained.

"On the day he went missing in action, that night was his 18th
birthday," Luna's nephew, Saul Salazar, said.

But Luna's body was never found, and the mystery kept his family searching for answers. His siblings never stopped carrying Luna's memory with them.

"It's as if he lived through them and their stories, and
we being the next generation, we kept it up and we always talked about him and hoped," Luna's niece, Susie Mokry, said.

Salazar and Mokry never met their uncle, but they made it
their mission to know him. A few years ago, their sister gave them DNA samples.

Then earlier this month, army officials confirmed partial remains of Luna's were found years ago by North Korean school children preparing to plant trees on what would have been Hill 205.

"We honestly never thought this was going to happen. We were
hoping - but none of this," Salazar said.

Now 58 years later, on what would have been Corporal Luna's
76th birthday, he'll be laid to rest in Taylor on Tuesday. A
proper burial, his family said, will finally give them closure.

"What's in the casket is his, and he's here with us now," Salazar said.

Not just pictures anymore, but a piece of their uncle finally paid tribute, they said, he so deserved.

"Everyone of us will be proud Tuesday, and will be standing
really tall," Mokry said.

Funeral services for Army Corporal Librado Luna will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Taylor.

A burial with full military honors will follow at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Cemetery.

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