Army Sgt's Remains Return to San Diego to be Laid to Rest in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery - NBC Southern California

Army Sgt's Remains Return to San Diego to be Laid to Rest in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Sgt. Donald Lee Murphy will be laid to rest on Saturday in a private ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

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    Army Sgt's Remains Return 69 Years After He Was KIA

    NBC 7's Melissa Adan spoke to the sergeant's nephew about what his uncle's homecoming means to their family. (Published Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019)

    An Army Sergeant's remains arrived in San Diego in time to be laid to rest on what would have been his 89th birthday.

    Sergeant Donald Lee Murphy joined the Army with his brother Harold, and both were stationed in Japan when the Korean War broke out. He was reported missing in action during the Korean War in 1950, where he later died at the age of 20.

    Sgt. Murphy's remains were later identified with the help of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). DPAA helps recover missing personnel who are listed as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action, according to their website.

    In 2018, the North Korean government repatriated 55 boxes containing the remains of American service members lost during the Korean War. One of the boxes contained remains recovered from the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Those remains later confirmed to be those of Sgt. Murphy, according to the DPAA.

    Sgt. Murphy's nephew, retired Army Colonel Don Murphy, found out about DPAA a few years ago. He was able to get his dad, Harold, to give a couple of blood samples so they could get a positive DNA match to any remains recovered from Korea.

    "My dad had always hoped they'd find the remains when he was alive, but he died a few years ago, so that didn't occur, but the fact that we can now repatriate and put Don to rest in the same cemetery as my dad, that's my focus," said Murphy's nephew.

    Sgt. Donald Lee Murphy (left) brother Harold Murphy (right)
    Photo credit: Murphy Family

    Sgt. Murphy's remains were first sent to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. His remains arrived at the San Diego International airport on Thursday. He was greeted by his family and the U.S. Army Honor Guard.

    "As a coincidence, we will be able to lay Don to rest on his birthday," said Sgt. Murphy's nephew. "It's full closure. He will be laid to rest within sight of his parent's grave and his brothers grave."

    Sgt. Murphy will be laid to rest on Saturday at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma in a private ceremony.

    Sgt. Murphy's brother and father, who also served in the Army, and mother are all buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.