By John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington
The baby-faced soldier in the photo below went off to war in 1950 and never returned. This Friday Army Sgt. Virgil Phillips will be laid to rest in Goodwill Cemetery in his hometown of Loogootee, Ind., nearly 60 years after he was killed on a frozen battlefield of America's "forgotten war" in Korea.
"We want him to come home and be placed alongside his son," Phillips' grandson told the Columbus (Ind.) Republic.
In June 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea, Phillips was 24 years old, married, and living in southern Indiana. Recalled to active duty, he shipped out in September for Korea.
"He was a short fellow, no more than 5 feet 4 inches, but he wasn't afraid of anybody," Phillips' sister-in-law told the Republic. "He never turned down a fight."
On Nov. 2, 1950, Phillips' unit was overrun by Chinese Communist forces in Unsan, North Korea, along the Kuryong River in an area known as the Camel's Head. Phillips was among 350 GI's unaccounted for after the battle.
For the next 46 years, Americans were denied access to this area of Communist North Korea to search for the remains of their fallen soldiers. Finally, in 1996, access was allowed and over the next nine years the remains of 220 GI's were recovered, including those of Virgil Phillips.
His remains were identified through DNA comparisons and returned to his relatives for burial.
"At one time, Virgil seemed forgotten," his niece wrote the Korean War Project, "but he was not, and now he will be coming home."
Unfortunately, neither his wife nor son will be there to bury him. His wife died in an auto accident in 1996, and his son committed suicide the following year.
(Photo courtesy of the Columbus (Ind.) Republic)
Click here to view tributes to the 144 service members killed this year in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the following 19 casualties from last week, the deadliest week this year for U.S. troops in Iraq.
1. Army Pfc. Shane Penley, 19, of Sauk Village, Ill.
2. Army Capt. Ulises Burgos-Cruz, 29, of Puerto Rico.
3. Army Spc. Matthew Morris, 23, of Cedar Park, Texas.
4. Army Staff Sgt. Emanuel Pickett, 34, of Teachey, N.C.
5. Army Col. Stephen Scott, 54, of New Market, Ala.
6. Army Maj. Stuart Wolfer, 36, of Emmett, Idaho.
7. Army Staff Sgt. Jeremiah McNeal, 23, of Norfolk, Va.
8. Army Sgt. Richard Vaughn, 22, of San Diego, Calif.
9. Army Sgt. Jason Kazarick, 30, of Oakmont, Pa.
10. Army Sgt. Michael Lilly, 23, of Boise, Idaho.
11. Army Sgt. Timothy Smith, 25, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
12. Army Maj. Mark Rosenberg, 32, of Miami Lakes, Fla.
13. Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery Hartley, 25, of Hempstead, Texas.
14. Army Spc. Jeremiah Hughes, 26, of Jacksonville, Fla.
15. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony Capra, 31, of Hanford, Calif.
16. Army Sgt. Shaun Tousha, 30, of Hull, Texas.
17. Army Sgt. Jesse Ault, 28, of Dublin, Va.
18. Army Spc. Jacob Fairbanks, 22, of St. Paul, Minn.
19. Army Sgt. William Allmon, 25, of Ardmore, Okla.
Washington Producer John Rutherford is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He also posts stories on the military at www.fieldnotes.msnbc.com (click on "John Rutherford" under "categories") and at http://john-rutherford.newsvine.com/. The tribute gallery can be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22802019/.