The body of a 17-year-old Marion County, Tenn., soldier who gave his life in 1951 during the Korean War is en route to Tennessee from the tomb of the unknown at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
U.S. Army Pfc. Lotchie J.R. Jones' remains will arrive at Nashville International Airport on Wednesday morning, and on Friday he will be buried at the Chattanooga National Cemetery. The Jasper, Tenn., resident was 17 years old when he died.
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Visitation on Thursday is set for 2 to 8 p.m. CST at Tate Funeral Home on 450 Mel Dixon Lane in Jasper. The funeral service will be held at the funeral home on Friday at 11:30 a.m. CST. Jones will be buried in Chattanooga National Cemetery on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder issued a statement Monday about the recognition of Jones' service.
Jones went missing on or about Nov. 2, 1950, in the vicinity of Unsan, North Korea, and is believed to have died while in enemy captivity at the Pyoktong Prisoner of War Camp 5 on Feb. 28, 1951, according to military officials.
In September 1954, Chinese forces turned over remains recovered at POW Camp 5 and mistakenly identified them as those of Delano B. Mulder. Efforts to correctly the identify of the former prisoner of war in 1954 were unsuccessful, so in 1956, the unidentifiable remains were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
In 2014, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command's Central Identification Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii re-examined the records and determined that there now were resources to identify the remains designated as "X-14516."
The unidentified remains were exhumed on July 10, 2014. Researchers used chest radiographs, dental records and skeletal remains to confirm the remains were those of Marion County's Jones, according to officials.
"After decades of not knowing, the Jones family and Jasper community will finally get closure as they bring Lotchie home to rest," Haslam said. "We join the Jones family in recognizing the loss of a young Tennessean who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his state and country during the Korean War."
Jones is survived by his brother M.V. Jones of Whitwell and his sister Mamie Lou Wells of Jasper.
"The family would like to thank the United States Army and the service of men and women who invested their time and enduring energy in bringing our loved one home," family spokesperson Lotchia Allen Jones said. Lotchia Jones was named in honor of his uncle.
Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday in honor of Jones' sacrifice.
Jones posthumously received the Combat Infantry Badge, Prisoner of War Medal and Purple Heart Medal. He also received the Korean Service Medal, Republic of Korean War Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@times freepress.com or twitter.com/BenBenton or www.facebook.com/ben.benton1 or 423-757-6569.