Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph E. Gantt went off to war 63 years ago, leaving behind a wife who never gave up on his return.
On Friday, 94-year-old Clara Gantt stood up from her wheelchair and wept in the cold before the flag-draped casket. Sgt. Gantt was finally home.
The faithful widow spoke to the journalists saying,
"He told me if anything happened to him he wanted me to remarry. I told him no, no. Here I am, still his wife."
Gantt was a field medic who went missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950 during the Korean War while serving with Battery C, 503rd Field Artillery, 2nd Infantry Division, according to the Defense Prisoner of
War/Missing Personnel Office in Washington, D.C.
According to the office, elements of the 2nd Infantry Division were attacked by greater numbers of Chinese forces near the town of Kunu-ri, North Korea. The division disengaged and withdrew, fighting its way through a series of Chinese roadblocks. Numerous U.S. soldiers were reported missing that day in the vicinity of Somindong, North Korea.
After a 1953 exchange of prisoners of war, the U.S. soldiers, who returned, claimed that Gantt had been injured, captured by Chinese forces and later died from malnutrition and lack of medical care.
However, his remains were only recently identified.
"Sixty-some odd years and just receiving his remains, coming home, was a blessing and I am so happy that I was living to accept him," Clara Gantt said.
The widow confessed to the journalists that she never had never been tempted to marry.
"I am very, very proud of him. He was a wonderful husband, an understanding man," she told reporters. "I always did love my husband, we was two of one kind, we loved each other. And that made our marriage complete."
Joseph Gantt is to be buried with full military honors is scheduled for Dec. 28 in Inglewood, Calif. Gantt said she plans one day to be buried next to him.