RITTMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – The remains of a military hero were laid to rest Thursday at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio.
Dennis Buckley was missing in action for more than 60 years after he was captured by Chinese forces in 1951 near Wonju, South Korea. Through DNA testing with family in the Valley, Buckley’s remains were identified and returned to Youngstown on Tuesday.
The full military funeral began at 1 p.m. Thursday The service included an honor guard, taps and flag presentation.
“This was the first POW from the Korean War that we have done, and it was just very moving,” said Jim Tornincasa, Jr., of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Eleanor Stevenson, Buckley’s half-niece, was his closest living relative, and she was there to take her uncle’s remains as well as witness the military funeral. Although she does not remember meeting her half-uncle, she said was happy to see that his memory was honored.
“All the ones that showed up on the motorcycles, that was for him, all along the road, people saluting him. It was unbelievable, unbelievable,” she said.
The Army learned about Buckley from a fellow member of his unit, who said Buckley died while in a Suan POW camp.
Buckley was fighting alongside the Republic of Korea against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces when he was captured. U.S. Graves Registration Services organized searches for missing soldiers in 1953, but he was not located, according to Buckley’s obituary. He was declared dead in 1951 and posthumously promoted to the rank of Corporal in 1953.
Buckley’s remains were mixed with hundreds of others that were returned to the U.S. in 1994.
Among the seven medals that Buckley earned are the Purple Heart, a prisoner of war recognition and another for good conduct.
Following his military service on Thursday, a flag was presented to Buckley’s family and a prayer was read.
Rev. Russ Adams, of Western Reserve United Methodist Church, said the service made people think about the other servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives.
Corporal Buckley was laid to rest among the 29,000 fellow veterans at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. The cemetery buries more than 2,500 veterans a year.
Stevenson said he won’t be forgotten.
“Now that I know he’s home, I will be here,” she said.