Remains of Cramerton soldier identified nearly 70 years after he went missing

After more than six decades, the remains of a war hero are finally on their way home. 

Howard Duncan was overcome with emotion knowing his brother, Army Corporal Earl Duncan is finally coming home.  

“Earl was a great guy. Faithful and true to the family,” Howard said. 

Earl was killed in the Korean War, reported missing on Dec. 2, 1950 during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir 

Earl's brothers Howard and Samuel are two of six siblings who grew up in a happy home in west Cramerton. Samuel says the neighborhood always gathered at their house.

“Get a marble game going, you know that was a big thing back then you know,” said Samuel. 

Earl worked at the local mill before going to war and always gave what money he had to his younger brothers and sisters. 

Army Corporal Earl Duncan was reported missing on Dec. 2, 1950. This Saturday, he's finally coming home. 

“We were raised to do the right thing,” Samuel said, “We always had a lot of fun.” 

The brothers say after Earl went to war, he always found time to send back presents to his family, like a jewelry box full of pearls and watches that he sent to his sister Elsie.

“Over the years after we were notified that he was missing, we just waited it out,” Samuel said. 

Years after losing Earl, the pain is still fresh for these brothers. 

“It’s been a long wait. A long wait. For a while there I couldn't even sleep,” Howard said. 

Decades and decades of not knowing created a deep hurt that one can only have for family member that's been lost.

“My faith was kind of waning,” Samuel said. 

Then in 2018, their prayers were answered following a summit with President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un. The North Korean leader fulfilled a promise and sent home the remains of American service members that have been in North Korea for more than six decades. 

“The whole family has been waiting for this for nearly a lifetime,” said Samuel.

DNA later identified the remains and Corporal Earl Duncan of west Cramerton was finally accounted for on Sep. 11, 2019.

“Part of me was gone and it stayed gone 68 years, 9 months and 11 days,” Howard said. 

On Saturday, Earl will be flown home to North Carolina and later buried in Gaston County.

"I’m going to ask them when they bring that casket off the airplane if I can walk out there and put my hand on that casket. I want to welcome Earl home,” said Howard.