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Remains of Korean War MIA from Cramerton coming home

Korean War MIA Earl Duncan’s siblings Howard Duncan, Elsie Duncan Loftin, and Sam Duncan are seen holding a picture of him and the medals he received for his service. Photo by Alan Hodge

By Alan Hodge

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The remains of Cramerton native and Korean War U.S. Army MIA Earl Duncan will soon be coming home.

Duncan was reported missing on December 2, 1950 during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. The battle, called the largest of the Korean War, was part of a larger campaign against Chinese Communist and North Korean troops and happened in what is now North Korea  from November to December 1950.

Duncan’s family received a call, ironically on Sept 11, from the U.S. Army  saying that his remains were currently in a facility in Hawaii where they had been brought from Korea and  identified. The next step, which should happen soon, will be to bring them home for a service with full military honors and burial in Gaston Memorial Park.

Several of Duncan’s relatives, including brothers Howard and Sam, and sister Elsie Duncan Loftin, gathered last week to reflect on Earl’s life and how the news of his return had impacted them.

According to his siblings, Earl was born on November 2, 1927 one of six children of  Fronia and Prosey Duncan. He went to school at McAdenville Elementary then went to work in the weave department of Burlington Mills. Earl joined the U.S. Army  in 1948 and was part of the 32nd Reg., 7th Division at the time of his death.

Elsie recalled good times the family had when they were growing up.

“Earl liked to play in the river, but that was against momma and daddy’s wishes,” she said. “My best memory of him was his smile.”

Howard praised Earl’s sense of honor.

“He was a loyal, great guy,” he said. “He was always faithful.”

Sam recalled Earl’s intellect and sense of adventure.

“He was very curious and loved being outdoors,” he said.

Sam also remembered the last time he saw Earl.

“I went to visit him at Fort Jackson,” he said. “We stood outside the barracks and talked a while.”

Earl’s family expressed how they felt when they received the call concerning his remains.

“I’m still trying to calm down,” Elsie said.

Howard was moved talking about it.

“It has been an emotional roller coaster,” he said. “I am happy, but it’s been emotionally, physically, and spiritually hard to handle.”

Sam agreed that the 69 years since Earl was reported MIA had been trying.

“It’s been a long, drawed out thing,” he said. “You think about it. My hopes had waned over the years, but now I’m happy.”

The next step for Earl’s remains will be to being them to the U.S. from Hawaii, then local arrangements will be made for a funeral at McAdenville Wesleyan Church. That event is certain to be one where plenty of  tears will be shed, but, as Elsie said “They will be tears of happiness.”

The BannerNews will follow this story in the coming days.