IRVINGTON, KY (WAVE) - The remains of a Korean War veteran killed nearly 70 years ago have finally made it back home.
Robert Sipes Jr., died Nov. 30, 1950, during heavy fighting between the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) and the 7th Cavalry Regiment, near the village of Unsan, North Korea.
He was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division and just 19-years-old when he was killed. Sipes had just completed Army basic training and arrived in Korea months earlier, in April. At the time of his death, Sipes was buried in North Korea, but in 1954, his remains were among the more than 4,000 interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
His grave was marked “unknown.”
In the 1990s, some of Sipes' relatives submitted DNA samples. Two decades later, the military contacted the family asking for dental records. In October of this year, Sipes' remains had been identified, and the process to bring him home was started.
Sipes’ sister, Millie Smith, 75, was just 7-years-old when he was killed. She says many times she didn’t think her brother’s remains would be identified during her lifetime.
“We had no clue it would happen so I had been telling my sons and Anna’s older boys (my nephews) this is something you will have to finish for us,” Smith said.
On Sunday, Sipes' remains were flown into the Louisville International Airport. He received a police escort from the airport to Alexander Funeral Home, in Irvington.
Sipes' funeral will be Wednesday at the chapel inside Alexander Funeral Home, beginning at 12 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Following the funeral, Sipes’ remains will be escorted to Bethel Cemetery, in Bewelyville.
Gov. Matt Bevin has declared all flags be flown at half-staff on Wednesday in honor of Sipes. Although flags statewide are presently at half-staff to honor former President George H.W. Bush, Wednesday’s flag lowering will also honor Pvt. Sipes.
Sipes is preceded in death by brother James F Sipes. He is survived by Sisters: Anna Priest of Irvington, Ky, Mildred Smith of Indianapolis, Indiana and Charlotte Wright of Central, Indiana. 1 great-great-great niece, 8 great-great nephews, 12 great-great nieces, 11 nephews, 8 great nephews and 12 great nieces.
In lieu of flowers, family has asked donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.