Friday, November 11, 2011

Coming Home

Sixty-one years after one of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War left 600 American men killed, captured or listed Missing in Action, one of those brave soldiers is coming home to finally rest in peace.

Benny Rogers was born in Palestine, Texas, and spent his early years growing up on a ranch before moving to Dallas as a teenager. At 17, Benny stretched the truth a bit and told an Army recruiter he was old enough to enlist. He loved serving his country, and three years later he re-enlisted as the Korean conflict was breaking out.

On Oct. 30, 1950, Cpl. Benny Rogers sent a letter to his mom telling her, “I am sitting in a freshly dug fox hole, things are getting better, but not over yet.” Three days later, the 20-year-old soldier was caught in the middle of the massacre at the Battle of Unsan. His mother received a telegram that he was listed as MIA.

For decades Benny’s mother prayed she would learn what happened to her son. Sadly, she died three years ago, but today her prayers are answered. Benny’s remains were found in North Korea and confirmed through enhanced DNA testing.

Yesterday, a day before Veterans Day, Cpl. Benny Rogers’ remains touched down at DFW airport. His family was on the tarmac to honor him and tomorrow he will receive full military honors when he is laid to rest next to his mother and father in Willow Springs Cemetery near Athens.

Benny’s niece, who was at the house when his mother received the telegram announcing he was missing, says the family is dealing with a mix of emotions. There is joy that Benny’s remains will be home where they belong, but sadness that his life was cut so short.

On this Veterans Day, let’s remember all those brave military men and women like Benny Rogers who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. Let’s also never forget those still listed as MIAs and POWs, and pray that one day we will know what happened to each of them so we can tell their brave stories and know their families have found peace.

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