Family of POW gets closure after decades-old mystery

Posted at 5:54 PM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 20:54:44-05

A 65-year-old mystery was recently solved for one San Diego military family. 

On Wednesday, the family finally said goodbye to the loved one who vanished so long ago.

Jake Griffiths can tell all sorts of stories about his uncle Jack, a major in the army.

“My dad always looked up to him as his older brother," Griffiths said. “He grew up in San Diego, lived here, was one of the first guys drafted here for World War II.”       

But there is one story that Griffiths could never tell the end to, until now.

It's what happened to his uncle's remains after Chinese troops captured and ultimately killed him in the Korean War.

“Malnutrition, looking at the bones, broken fingers, missing teeth, that they said were all extracted within a few months prior to death,” Griffiths said.

Griffiths said the U.S. exchanged remains of soldiers with the Chinese and Korean governments in 1952. He said up until recently, researchers thought Maj. Griffith's remains could have actually been four other men.

They recently used 10-year-old DNA samples from Maj. Griffith’s sisters to establish a 99 percent confidence rate in identification.

So on Wednesday, Griffiths' uncle received full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, where he will be buried.

Maj. Griffith's only child, Joe, received three medals for his father's service. His son was only two when he deployed to Korea.

Griffiths said the funeral is closure for him. And while he never met his uncle, he still tells many of his stories. Now they include the ending Griffiths said his uncle deserves.