CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – After 70 years, one Logan County family whose loved one went missing in action during the Korean War finally has some closure. Just last year, that soldier’s remains were found and identified.
Army Corporal Pete Conely, who was just 19 years old, from Chapmanville, West Virginia, was killed in the Korean War on December 12, 1950, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces. His remains were accounted for on June 5, 2020. His family was in shock.
“We never gave up hope and we’re just so thankful that we finally get to have a service for him and honor him,” said Kimberly Martin, Conley’s niece.
On July 20, 2018, following the summit between Former President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, 55 boxes of remains were turned over. After analysis, those 55 boxes contained more than 200 remains mixed together from American service members.
“When North Korea turned those remains over we actually had forensic anthropologists on-site in North Korea that we’re able to check out the bones there and accompany the bones back to our laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on the island of Oahu in Hawaii,” Sgt. Sean Everette, Spokesman for DPAA said.
Those remains were then sent to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner and entered into the DNA identification laboratory.
“There’s a database that they have that is made up which is solely made up of past conflict family members like DNA reference samples from family members that went missing in our past conflict,” Sgt. Everette said.
Cpl. Conley’s niece, Kimberly Martin says his mother kept in contact with the government and wrote letters to the DPAA in search of her missing son.
“We always wondered, and my father died in ’87 and he died writing letters and still wondering what happened to him, he was missing in action since 1950,” Martin said.
Somehow, Martin said she thinks Cpl. Conley’s mother knows he’s been found, even though she passed away. The cemetery in Logan where he’ll be buried is full, but the funeral director found a space right beside his mother.
“First of all, we’d like to thank God who brought him back so we can bury him beside our grandmother who never gave up,” Martin said.
Together again, at last.
Cpl. Conley’s remains will be flown to Columbus, where there will be a welcome home ceremony, and then he’ll be driven to Chapmanville.