The remains of a U.S. soldier who was listed as missing in action nearly seven decades ago were returned to family members Wednesday in an emotional ceremony at Los Angeles International Airport.
Army Cpl. Albert E. Quintero began his service in 1945, serving in the Korean War. He was declared Killed in Action in 1953, but his remains were never found until family members submitted DNA and made the surprising discovery.
“I’m super-grateful for everyone that had a piece in connecting the DNA,” said relative Jennifer Ramos. “It’s amazing.”
The DNA sample was submitted to a service that attempts to locate service members listed as MIA. Two years went by before family members received a call, notifying them that remains had been identified as those of Cpl. Quintero, who lived in Watts.
Cpl. Quintero’s remains arrived early Wednesday at Los Angeles International Airport in a somber ceremony. Family members and an honor guard were there to salute the veteran, whose casket was draped in a U.S. flag. The remains were transported from LAX to a mortuary in Long Beach.
“It’s sad that we never got to meet him, but we’re so happy that we found him,” said niece Alica Arviso.
Funeral details are being finalized.
Cpl. Quintero was a member of Battery D, 15th Anti-aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Self-propelled Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. In November 1950, he was one of about 2,500 U.S. soldiers deployed, along with 700 South Korean soldiers, east of the Chosin Reservoir when they were overwhelmed in an attack by Chinese forces.
The U.S. Army evacuated about 1,500 wounded service members. The remaining soldiers were either killed or captured.
Quintero was not accounted for, and he was reported missing Dec. 2, 1950.