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'Miraculous closure': Eulogy for Korean War soldier whose remains were returned after 69 years

While a memorial service is often an interval for grief, Kareen Briggs Simmons described a dramatically opposite response in her eulogy Saturday for her older brother, U.S. Army Sgt. Gerald Raeymacker, who died in 1950 in the Korean War.

The return of his remains represents “miraculous closure for our family,” Simmons told the congregation at Holy Trinity Church in Dunkirk, their hometown.

Raeymacker, 21, was killed in the battle of the Chosin Reservoir. For decades he was listed as missing in action, until 55 boxes of American remains were sent back by the North Koreans following a 2018 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

In late summer, Raeymacker’s relatives learned that he had been positively identified.

The service involved full military honors, which continued with Raeymacker's burial at Willowbrook Park Cemetery near his late mother, Margaret Briggs.

“My mother said to us so many times, ‘This is all I ever want is for him to come home to us,’ ” said Simmons, 81, in explaining her family's joyous relief in finally welcoming her brother.

After almost 70 years, a soldier is coming home from Korea

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