SCHUYLERVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – After 71 years, a local Korean War Veteran was finally laid to rest at Saratoga National Cemetery. Although he served in what’s known as the “forgotten war,” Corporal Walter Smead was finally remembered and laid to rest with full military honors.
Fellow Korean War veteran Frank English served in the 1st Marine Division in Korea and felt a duty to pay his respects to Smead.
“When I saw on the news that he was identified, I told my wife, he’s a fellow in arms, and he’s finally home,” English said. “And I just felt I had to come today.”
Nearly 40,000 American service members were killed in action during the Korean War, one of them was Corporal Walter Smead.
70 years later, Corporal Smead was remembered with a “Celebration of Walter’s Life” at the Densmore Funeral Home and a comittal service with full military honors at Saratoga National Cemetery.
Smead’s unit was attacked near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. He was listed as missing in action on December 6, 1950 and presumed dead in December of1953.
“He not only lost one life, which is the life that he was living. But he lost two lives, the life that he could have had,” Frank LaMarsh, Commander of American Legion New York, said.
In 2018, Smead’s remains were brought to the United States along with 55 other boxes of remains through the Trump administration. His remains were later identified this March using DNA technology.
When News10’s Stephanie Rivas asked Smead’s niece, Bonnie Wolff, what she wished she could tell him today, her answer spoke volumes with only a few words.
“Welcome home,” Wolff said.
Smead was a native of Hadley, New York and his family gathered to honor his name.
“The Smead family has fought in almost every war,” Stuart Smead, Lieutenant Colonel Ret., said.
Stuart Smead said he is carrying on Walter’s legacy of selfless service.
“My family has been waiting for this day for five decades,” Smead said.
The community came out by the hundreds to pay their respects; Patriot Riders from near and far, the United States Army Honor Guar, and many fellow veterans like English.
“If you’ve fallen on the battlefield you should come home,” English said. “They have to come home to rest, you can’t rest when you’re not home.”