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MALONE, N.Y. — Lawrence Jock's surviving relatives in northern New York knew next to nothing about the Army combat veteran who was declared missing in action at the end of the Korean War more than 60 years ago.
Now that his remains have been identified and will be brought back to the North Country for burial, his relatives have learned that he was decorated veteran of World War II who enlisted before America entered the conflict in December 1941.
"He was a patriot even before the Japanese attacked us. That was something I could tell the family," said 1st Sgt. Ronald Spanton of the New York Army National Guard.
Spanton, a casualty assistance officer in northern New York, researched Jock's military background after his remains were identified on June 25, the 64th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. He learned that Jock joined the service in the 1930s, served as an infantryman in Europe with the 100th Infantry Division during WWII and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for Valor. Jock also served with U.S. occupation forces in Japan.
The Pentagon said this week that Jock, of Fort Covington, was identified by scientists at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii using forensic technology, including DNA samples provided by his family.
The 37-year-old master sergeant was serving as a forward observer with a field artillery battery in the 8th Army when his position was attacked on July 15, 1953, by Chinese forces in Kangwon Province, North Korea. A day after the battle, Jock was listed as MIA, and a year later, he was declared dead. Military official said his remains were among those of 350 to 400 U.S. servicemen turned over by North Korea between 1991 and 1994.
Spanton said a plane carrying Jock's casket is scheduled to arrive at the Albany airport on Wednesday. A hearse will transport his remains to Malone, where calling hours will be held the following day at Spaulding Funeral Home. He will be buried afterward with full military honors in St. John Bosco Cemetery.
The only living relative with a memory of Jock is his niece, now 78, who recalls him coming to her mother's house to say goodbye before going to Korea. Spanton said the woman doesn't wish to speak to the media about her uncle's homecoming.