CULLMAN, Ala. - In June of 1950, the peninsula nation of Korea was embroiled in a civil war. North Korea, with backing from the Soviet Union and Russia, invaded South Korea. The United Nations intervened with mostly American troops. More than 300,000 American soldiers, in fact, including a 17 year old boy from Cullman. Now, more than six decades later, Larry Martin Dunn is finally on his way home.
Larry Dunn was one of seven boys, and one of the five who served in the military. When he enlisted in the Army, the war drums were sounding near the 38th Parallel, and Larry, along with several of his brothers, would find themselves deep in the midst of what became known as The Forgotten War. But those who didn't come home could never be forgotten.
John Dunn was a toddler when Larry left for war and has very few memories of his youngest uncle. “I think it was harder on grandpa because he grieved over it because, I guess, it was his youngest son and he was, 'cause he'd write him letters, there's letters there that he wrote really concerned about his welfare and where he was at,” John explained.
But the letters would all be returned unanswered.
In November of 1950, Dunn's battalion was involved in a particularly heavy firefight in the DMZ between North and South Korea. When it was over with, he was no where to be found. In fact, he would never be seen nor heard from again.
In 1954, the North Korean government allowed the remains of some 400 American servicemen to be sent home but none of them could be identified. They were buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, in graves marked simply "Unknown."
Recently, the U.S. Government has been exhuming those bodies in an effort to provide positive identification, to provide families with some closure. And in July, the remains of Cpl. Larry Dunn were positively identified. Now, after more than 60 years, he's on his way home.
Larry's father kept the faded telegram that said only that he was missing in action. And over the years, the decades, they would learn nothing more.
“I know that my grandpa used to cry a lot because he couldn't get any answers because they didn't have any,” says Larry’s niece, Susan Kampis.
Only recently did they learn Larry had been taken prisoner and died as a POW. His father and brothers all lived the remainder of their lives without ever knowing what had happened. But now, Corporal Larry Dunn will receive a hero's welcome so long overdue when he's returned to Cullman next week and laid to rest near his family.
Currently, the remains of Corporal Dunn are scheduled to arrive in Birmingham on Tuesday for an escort to Cullman Heritage Funeral Home. His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, September 17th. The Patriot Guard riders, and others, will then escort the family to Mt. Carmel Cemetery where he will be laid to rest with full military honors.