Remains of Korean War vet back in the Bay Area

July 30, 2013 9:27:01 PM PDT
The remains of a true hero of the Korean War have finally come home to his Bay Area family today - 62 years after he died. The flag draped coffin of Army Sergeant First Class Joseph Steinberg arrived at Mineta Airport in San Jose. Family members were there to greet him.

The Honor Guard is at the funeral home watching over Steinberg's remains. The family says they never gave up pushing for several decades to bring the native San Franciscan home.

The journey for Steinberg finally reached the Bay Area after he was missing in action for more than 62 years. Steinberg was from San Francisco and was captured during the Korean War in 1951. He was presumed to have died or been killed while in captivity.

"I'm kind of mixed emotion. It's been 62 years. We've grieved for 62 years. I'm kind of elated right now. I think it's a great thing that we're bringing his remains home," said Master Sgt. (Ret.) Ron Smith, Steinberg's nephew.

A procession of veterans on motorcycles and San Jose police officers led the way on I-880 to Highway 17 ending in Los Gatos where the casket was brought out in silence. Family members were then taken inside and in private were able to see the remains of Joseph Steinberg. Outside, we witnessed a special moment between the Patriot Guard Riders and Steinberg's nephew.

"So, these coins are extremely important to us and we wanted to give one to you and your family in recognition of your service and sacrifice or his service and sacrifice I should say," said a member of the Patriot Guard Riders.

"We want to make sure that he got the welcome home that he deserved. We want to make sure the family knows they don't grieve alone that we as a nation grieve with them," said Buzz Bickham, Patriot Guard Riders.

The Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office announced his remains were identified on May 30, this year -- matching DNA samples given by his niece and nephew. Steinberg's family says their story should bring hope to the families of the thousands of other U.S. personnel still unaccounted for from World War II, the Korean War and in Southeast Asia.

"Just keep hoping, they're out there and they'll find them," said Steinberg's great niece Shannon Sullivan.

The funeral for Sergeant Steinberg will take place this Thursday with full military honors at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno.


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