After 67 years Sgt. First Class Milton Beed returned home to be buried next to his family.
Beed, who was killed in the Korean war could not be identified until recently through DNA testing.
His death and the unknowing surrounding it was something that has been with his family for years. His oldest remaining Nephew Gary Becker remembers knowing of his uncle’s sacrifice, but could never receive closure.
“Growing up as a kid, I knew my uncle had served in the Korean war,” said Becker. “and that he had given his life for our country, but there was never any closure to it.”
But then, the path to closure began when the family received a phone call that was almost too good to be believed.
“At first we thought it was a hoax,” Becker recalled. “So we called back to, Fort Knox and they said that they have a division who constantly goes through remains trying to bring closure and trying to bring identification.”
After the unit was able to identify Sgt. 1st Class Beed, arrangements were made for him to return home. Upon his arrival Monday he was greeted with a heroes welcome and a procession lead by the Legion Riders from Omaha to Norfolk.
Tuesday evening a viewing so the public could pay their respects before he was finally laid to rest Wednesday morning next to his family in the Hillcrest cemetery.
It was an emotional experience and out pouring of support that was not lost on Becker
“It’s just been very, very emotional,” Becker said. “It brings me goosebumps to know the support and how this community here has responded to his remains coming home.”
While the homecoming of Sgt 1st Class Beed galvanized a community, it also brought something far more valuable and precious together for the first time in a long time.
“It’s brought the family together because a lot of us haven’t seen each other for 40 or 50 years,” said Becker.
“So this has been something that has brought the family closer together and brought closure to something that everyone has had in the back of their mind, but probably didn’t ever realize it would come to play out.”
Reuniting his family was his fitting final gift to those that never gave up hope that he would return home one day.
“(It) was one last fitting gift,” Becker said.
And as the 21 gun salute echoed across the grounds and the notes of Taps floated on the Nebraska breeze, the family was finally able to write the final chapter and receive closure of a story that spanned 67 years, by laying a hero to rest back home.