The remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Joe T. Avant will soon be returned home to his family in Greenwood.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Avant will be buried Dec. 13.
Avant, 20, was reported missing in action in 1950 while serving in the Korean War and was declared dead in 1953. He was accounted for on Sept. 10 by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, and Avant’s family members were notified on Sept. 11.
“We are so thankful as a family that we are getting this closure after 69 years,” said Avant’s younger sister, Delores Moore. “We are so grateful. Our desire is to honor our brother.”
Services for Avant will be held at 11 a.m. on Dec. 13 at North Greenwood Baptist Church.
Interment will follow at Odd Fellows Cemetery, which is where the family had placed a memorial marker for Avant in 1988.
“He will have the same military honors of someone who is killed in war today,” said Moore.
Greenwood Delta Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Avant’s remains will arrive in Jackson a couple of days before the funeral. Moore said many members of the Avant family will drive to the Jackson airport, where they will attend a ceremony that will be held by Army service members from Fort Polk, Louisiana, at the airport’s tarmac.
There will be a convoy of vehicles and the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcycle riders consisting of active and retired military service members, accompanying the hearse traveling from Jackson to Greenwood.
The group from Fort Polk will also attend the funeral and burial, which will feature full military honors.
“The Army has been so supportive of us as a family during this process,” said Moore. “Just over the past 20 years, I’ve been so impressed by the work that they do. It’s been very touching to see, and I think people don’t have a clue of all the work they are doing to find resolutions for families.”
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s personnel profile of Avant states, “In 2018, the North Korean government repatriated 55 boxes containing the remains of American service members lost during the Korean War. One box contained remains recovered from the east side of the Chosin Reservoir, which made an association with Cpl. Avant feasible.”
On July 27, 2018, following the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea turned over the 55 boxes.
The remains arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on Aug. 1, 2018, and were accessioned into the agency’s laboratory for identification.
To identify Avant’s remains, scientists used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA and autosomal DNA and analysis.
Members of the Avant family had provided DNA samples to the Department of Defense about 20 years ago.
Avant was 19 years old when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in February 1950. A month later, he turned 20.
Avant deployed in late 1950. He served in the Heavy Mortar Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. His unit was part of the 31st Regimental Combat Team during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950, in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces. Following the battle, his remains could not be recovered.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reports that 7,605 Americans still remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.
“Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by Korean officials, recovered from Korea by American recovery teams or disinterred from unknown graves,” the agency said in a written statement.
Avant’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has now been accounted for.
•Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.