After 67 years, Army Corporal returns home to Indiana

Army Cpl. Gerald Shepler's casket is loaded into a hearse at Indianapolis International Airport.
Korean War vet finally returns home after 67 years
Korean War Veteran comes home

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - It took 67 years, but Army Corporal Gerald Shepler returned home Thursday.

Shepler died serving his country during the Korean War. His funeral will be Saturday in Union County.

We have all had to wait for a plane now and then, but none of us have waited as long as the Shepler family. They have waited for this day for nearly 67 years.

So Connie Barrett greeted her brother with a wave.

"The two of us have only known him through my mother and stories passed down through the family," Ron Wood explained.

Like the day she discovered an old sketch book and got it down to show him.

"We found this book with sketches in it and she is sharing it with me and that very day the military people call to confirm they had actually found his remains. That was mom's early Christmas. She was really pleased and blessed," Wood reflected.

Who could blame her? Nearly 70 years have passed since a mortar shell exploded about ten yards from Army Cpl. Gerald Shepler in an ambush in North Korea on November 29, 1950. He was only 20 years old.

"My uncle's remains were brought in from Korea probably found in 1993. Military did DNA testing, just confirmed his remains as Darrel Shepler from Union County," he said.

Shepler's mother is still alive, but could not make Thursday's arrival at Indianapolis International Airport. But his sister Connie did. She welcomed him home by touching the flag-draped casket as it sat on the tarmac.

"Mom passed along that her parents, grandpa and grandma, died never knowing about Gerald. Uncle Patty died, Uncle Bob died, so they never actually knew what happened to Uncle Gerald, assuming he had died, but not knowing," she said.

But now, those who remain, including his mother, have lived long enough to see him buried. That will be this Saturday at 2 p.m in Dunlapsville.

It is very unusual in more ways than one.

7,761 American soldiers are still unaccounted for from the Korean War. Now, with the political nature of North Korea, it is doubtful too many more will get to ever the opportunity to be buried back at home.