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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Military Pallbearers bring Army Cpl. Henry L. Helms to his final resting place at Anderson Memorial Gardens on Saturday, May 22, 2021 in Ringgold, Georgia. Helms, who was ruled missing in action for seven decades, was identified by his family and given full honors with funeral rites after a 2018 meeting between North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un and former President Donald Trump, in which an agreement was struck to repatriate remains of Americans collected from the Korean War.

With the sound of over 40 motorcycles revving their engines at full throttle, Evelyn Snyder sat quietly in the front seat of a vintage hearse with her brother, finally home, in the back.

Snyder stared stoically ahead waiting for her driver. It's been a long 70 years since she and her family felt closure.

Snyder's brother, Army Cpl. Henry L. Helms — with an American flag draped over his casket — was back on American soil.

"It's a most wonderful thing," Snyder said from the front seat. "It's truly an honor to have all these people come out today. It's outstanding."

Helms was laid to rest Saturday in Ringgold, 70 years after being reported missing in action in 1950 while fighting in the Korean War.

Helms was born and raised in Collbran, Alabama, before his family moved to Ringgold in the 1940s. He joined the military and served in World War II as a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He re-enlisted in 1948 to fight in Korea and was reported missing in action Dec. 2, 1950, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea.

Following the battle, his remains were never recovered. He was just 24 years old.

Seven decades later, Helms' remains were turned over by North Korea in July 2018.

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Korean War hero laid to rest

When former President Donald Trump visited North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018, North Korea turned over 55 boxes that reportedly contained the remains of American service members killed during the Korean War.

The remains arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, two months later and went to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory for identification.

On Saturday afternoon, dozens of family members packed a funeral home in Ringgold to send off their beloved hero. Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, passed along a declaration from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp honoring Helms' life and legacy.

Donald Helms, one of Cpl. Helms' nephews, said in his eulogy that it was a miracle and a blessing to be able to give his uncle a proper burial in the United States.

"I believe with all my heart that Henry was a good man and I believe that him and Granny and all the brothers and sisters are together today rejoicing," Donald Helms said. "I'm glad there's closure for us and I'm glad we get to get him back on American soil."

Helms' name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette was placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Still today, more than 7,600 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

Before the procession moved from the funeral home to Helms' last resting place, Snyder talked about how fortunate she feels to have her brother back.

"It's special enough to have him back," Snyder said with a tear in her eye. "Having everyone here with us, it's overwhelming."

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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