A lost soldier is finally coming home. The remains of Army Cpl. Billy Joe Butler, 19, who died in the Korean War, have been identified and will be sent back to the Hill Country for their final resting place.
Butler was a member of Company C, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, engaged in combat operations near Kujang, North Korea. On Nov. 28, 1950, he was captured by the Chinese People's Volunteer Force.
After the war, returning American prisoners said Butler died in January 1951 at the prisoner of war camp in Pukchin-Tarigol, North Korea, also called Hofung Camp. On March 15, 1954, the U.S. Army declared Butler deceased as of Jan. 27, 1951.
North Korea turned over 55 boxes of American service member remains on July 27, 2018 after a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un.
The remains were shipped to Hawaii in August 2018 where they were extensively analyzed for identification.
"All those guys who lost their lives and didn't get brought home, any time that there's a hint that their remains can be found, they need to be brought back to their home," said Mike Bowlin, the vice chairman of the Kerr County Historical Commission. "Get them back to their family and their home base so the family can have closure."
Butler is the second soldier whose remains were lost, found and returned home to Kerrville. Bowlin said the first was Vietnam veteran Curtis Cleveland Dees.
For a community this size, having two soldiers' remains come home after such a long time lost is rare and special, Bowlin added.
There are 7,652 Americans still unaccounted for from the Korean War.
The Kerrville Daily Times has not achieved contact with Butler's family members. A more detailed story will be published soon.
A visitation for Butler will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. July 25 at the Kerrville Funeral Home, 1221 Junction Highway.
Funeral services will take place 10 a.m. July 26 in the main chapel at Kerrville Funeral Home. Internment will follow at Nichols Cemetery with full military honors.
For more information, call the Kerrville Funeral Home at 830-895-5111.