A homecoming seven decades in the making

Remains of Pfc. Jimmy Rowland, killed during the Korean War, are finally brought back to his hometown for burial

BALDWYN, MISS. (WCBI) – It is a homecoming more than seven decades in the making.  The remains of a soldier from Baldwyn, killed in the Korean War, are finally back home.

The family of Private First Class Jimmy Rowland never gave up hope that one day, they would be able to give their loved one the honor he deserves.

“When I got the call the other day, I tell you, I couldn’t believe it, they said his remains were going to be shipped and they gave me a few of the details, when I got off the phone, I fell over crying.  I cried for about ten minutes.  My wife said, ‘what is wrong with you?” I said, my uncle’s coming home,” said J.B. Williams.

Mr. Williams was only ten years old in July 1950 when his uncle, Private First Class Jimmy Rowland, was declared missing while fighting in the Korean War.

A year later, four sets of remains were found at the foot of a bridge.  Three of the soldiers were identified, as members of Rowland’s regiment.  But the fourth set of remains could not be identified.

“You always think it was a mistake and they’ll find him somewhere, and one day they’ll announce he has been found, and he’s coming home, but those days never happened,” Williams said.

The remains were buried as unknown in Hawaii.

In 2018 plans were put in motion to disinter and identify more than 600 casualties of the Korean War.

In November, using DNA from one of Rowland’s sisters,  a positive match was made.  Brenda Mc Cord is the daughter of Helen Rowland Bishop, whose DNA helped solve the 71 year old mystery.

“I wish a thousand times he would have been brought home before my mother died.  She looked for him everyday, she wanted him to come home so bad.,” McCord said.

Chuck Fowler is a family member of another sort.   The 89 year old retired Baptist preacher was in the 25th Infantry Division, about a mile from Rowland, when the fierce battle was raging north of Taejon South Korea.

And though Fowler didn’t know Rowland personally, he wanted to pay his respects to the young soldier.

“This boy here was about my same age at that time.  It was important for me,  this is a contact, you very seldom ever have,” Fowler said.

Patriot Guard Riders brought along a flag that has only been flown at six other funerals for those killed in action in the Korean War.

“This person here who gave his life is the reason we have the freedom we have today.  People don’t take it nearly as seriously as they should.  There is a man who has been gone seventy plus years and we’ve enjoyed the freedoms he helped sustain by giving his life,” said Barry Caldwell, of the Patriot Guard Riders.

Patriot Guard Riders will be at the funeral home through visitation and they will escort Private First Class Rowland’s body to his final resting place at Asbury Cemetery on Saturday.

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