Family members gathered at San Jose Mineta International Airport early Tuesday for an emotional welcome home for an American soldier who died in a North Korean prisoner of war camp in 1951.
Army Sgt. First Class Joseph David Steinberg was awarded medals for bravery in both World War II and Korea before his capture by enemy troops.
He had been captured and taken prisoner after the Chinese Army attacked U.S. troops near Hoengsong, South Korea in February 1951.
He died in the POW camp in 1951 of malnutrition and exposure. His remains were only recently identified by DNA. However, the process of making a positive identification took several years.
“It was eight years ago that they asked my father and my aunt for their DNA,” said Steinberg’s great niece Shannon Sullivan. “They didn’t hear from the government for eight years so when they did get the call back in May, they were stunned…They were in total shock “
Sullivan said the family – which never gave up hope of finding her uncle’s remains – was grateful for all the effort the government made.
“It’s been a great effort by our government to find people who have been lost like this,” she said. “They are not forgotten in our hearts. “
Steinberg’s coffin was greeted by tears, bagpipes and a motorcycle honor guard of war vets at the airport.
Sullivan said family members were gathering from around the country for a memorial service on Thursday.
Steinberg will be buried alongside his brothers Charles, Jack and William at the Golden Gate National Cemetery.
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