Flags flying at half staff today for soldier missing since Korean War
NASHVILLE -- Gov. Bill Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset today in honor of Private First Class Lotchie John Ray Jones of Jasper.
Jones will be buried at the Chattanooga National Cemetery this afternoon.
The Marion County native was serving with B Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during the Korean War when he went missing on or about Nov. 2, 1950, in the vicinity of Unsan, North Korea.
He is believed to have died while in enemy captivity at the Pyoktong Prisoner of War Camp 5 on Feb. 28, 1951. Jones was 17 years old.
In September 1954, Chinese forces turned over remains recovered at POW Camp 5 and mistakenly identified them as the remains of Delano B. Mulder. Efforts to correctly identify the former prisoner of war in 1954 were unsuccessful. In 1956, the unidentifiable remains were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
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 resources to identify the remains designated as X-14516 now existed. 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 Jones.
"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."
"Private First Class Jones was only a teenager when he gave his life in service to our country and his bravery will not be forgotten," Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder said.
"We are grateful that he will be laid to rest in his home state, where his name will be carved on his headstone and removed from the list of missing-in-action Tennesseans."
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.
"Also, the civilian branches that assisted with this operation need the acknowledgement as well. Thank you for your persistence and perseverance to use developing science and technology to identify our loved one and return our family's hometown hero to us. It is one of the most precious blessings that we have received from the Lord. Just knowing that we will have Lotchie home and the amazing timeline of the past 64 years is a supreme blessing for all of us. We have endured decades of vagueness, uncertainty and ambiguity as to his location after he went missing, became a prisoner and was ultimately killed.
"Now, there's faith and certainty that we have had our prayers answered. We are getting our boy back and heaven has another precious soul. Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies. We are relieved to have closure and pray others like us will experience the blessing of answers and resolution."
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.