WESTERVILLE — An American hero is returning home today.
“Tuesday June 14, a hero will be laid to rest at Northlawn Memory Gardens,” Genoa Police Chief Steve Gammill wrote in email. “On July 20, 1950, Army Private First-Class Jack E. Lilley went missing in action after his unit was overrun by enemy forces in Korea. After being missing in action (MIA) for 71 years his family was notified last year that his remains had been located and identified.”
According to several historical websites, the Korean War took place from June 1950 to July 1953. North Korea, aided by China and the Soviet Union, launched the initial invasion. South Korea was aided by the United States and 20 countries in the United Nations. Korea had been under Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945 but was divided following Japan’s surrender in World War II. The divided lands became sovereign nations, recognized by neither.
During the three-year war, invasions by each side were repelled. An armistice agreement was signed, creating a heavily guarded demilitarized zone to separate the nations. No peace treaty was signed, though, and the two nations are technically still at war.
One book about the Korean War is subtitled, “No Victors, No Vanquished.” President Harry S. Truman called it a “police action.” Others have called it the “Forgotten War” or the “Unknown War.” An estimated 3 million people died from the Korean War, including more than 36,000 Americans. More than 103,000 Americans were wounded and nearly 5,000 were prisoners of war (POWs). Among the Korean, American and UN forces, more than 24,000 remain MIA, more than 7,600 of them American.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) keeps track of both accounted for and unaccounted for service members in the Korean War by their home state.
“Since 1982, the remains of over 450 Americans killed in the Korean War have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors,” said the DPAA website.
“PFC Lilley will be escorted to his resting place by a motorcade led by Westerville Police and other police and fire agencies after a 1 p.m. memorial service in Westerville,” Gammill continued. “We do not have exact times on the motorcade but there will be traffic restrictions and direction around the cemetery when it arrives.”
Northlawn Memory Gardens is in Delaware County off of state Route 3, just above Maxtown Road/Polaris Parkway.
“We appreciate your patience and understanding as we honor PFC Lilley’s service and help his family finally bring him home,” Gammill said.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.