WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Most of us have seen a military homecoming, if not in person, on the news. Sometimes it’s just a surprise visit, other times it’s a big celebration especially for veterans: motorcycles with flags, eager families, all ready to be reunited. This particular story is 65 years in the making.
“Today, we’re finally welcoming home my great-uncle Wayne Minard,” said Bruce Stubbs. “It was a lot of mixed emotions, I mean, elation at first, finally, finally found and identified his remains, big relief for the family.”
Wayne Minard was 17 when he asked his mom to give the okay for him to join the Army. At 18, he would eagerly get into uniform, eventually going over to fight in the Korean War. At 19 years old, he was captured.
According to defense officials, he died on Feb 16, 1951 after being taken to a North Korean prison camp where he starved to death. His remains identified earlier this year in North Korea. Now, after decades away, his family is finally able to give Minard the honor, and the welcome home he deserved.
“They’ve known since 1954 that he was deceased, but to finally have identified his remains and to bring him home to US soil, and to be buried along with his family out at the Green Valley Cemetery, where his mother father and twin brother is a great relief.”
Minard will receive several awards for his service, including the Prisoner of War award and the Purple Heart. While the medals mean a lot to the family to recognize his service, having him back matters so much more.
“(We) had kind of given up hope of ever being identified, you know finding his remains and bringing him home so this is huge to be able to welcome Wayne home.”
The family will have the funeral for Minard on Saturday in Furley where he grew up. He’ll be buried with full military honors.