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Tina Gordon finally got the call on Jan. 3 that the Gordon family had been waiting on for more than 60 years.
“I was so excited,” she said. “I couldn’t wait to go and tell Cliff.”
Clifford Gordon, Tina’s father-in-law, had kept hope that his baby brother, Paul Marshall Gordon, a soldier in the Korean War, would finally be laid to rest at home in Grant County.
Clifford had given a DNA sample several years ago in hopes that Paul’s remains could be identified among remains the Korean government released to the United States military that had been entombed in Hawaii.
Tina didn’t get the chance to tell Clifford that Paul would be coming home because Clifford died just before midnight the very night she got the call notifying the Gordon family that Paul’s remains had been identified.
“I didn’t get to tell him and it broke my heart because he talked about his brother all the time,” Tina said.
Paul’s family, including his only living sibling, Dorothy Gordon Gayhart, were able to finally see their family legacy completed when Paul was given a military funeral with honors last week.
Mickey Sanders, Paul’s oldest niece, gave his eulogy. Sanders, of Port Orchard, Washington, said she wouldn’t have missed being back in Grant County for this occasion.
“This is not to glorify our family, but to give hope to other families,” Sanders said. “This is the story of a hero and I’m honored to have this opportunity to give this eulogy for Paul.”
Sanders said that Paul was “a Sherman boy through and through.”
“This is the first funeral I’ve attended that’s filled with joy because it’s been a long time coming,” she said.
Paul was the fourth child of Doll and Urie Gordon. He joined the Army on Jan. 14, 1949, along with his best friend, Merle Simpson.
The last time his family saw him alive was in June 1950 when he was home on leave and the family gathered for a meal.
Gordon received a medal for heroism for saving a Korean child who wandered onto the battlefield. He later received a Purple Heart.
His parents kept all the faded, yellowed newspaper clippings about him, along with his hand-written notes, for his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.
After he went missing in January 1951 when his camp was over run by Korean and Chinese soldiers, his mother faithfully clipped every POW listing that was printed in local papers, as well as all the correspondence the family received from the military.
For more than 40 years, that’s all his family would know.
“We always hoped he’d be among those prisoners that were released,” Sanders said. “Grandma probably wrote hundreds of letters to servicemen to see if anyone knew of Paul’s whereabouts.”
In 1956, the family was told that Paul’s remains had been declared unrecoverable.
“The family was devastated by this loss and the whole town felt it,” Sanders said. “It was like a hole in your heart that never healed.”
She said her father, as well as the rest of Paul’s brothers and sisters, passed on to their children to never quit trying to bring their uncle home.
On Tuesday, June 17, Paul’s body with a military escort landed in Kentucky at the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati International Airport. Waiting on the ground were Dorothy and nearly two dozen of Paul’s relatives.
Paul’s body was escorted from Sherman Baptist Church to the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North where he was buried on June 20.
“It was by God’s hand that we have him,” Sanders said. “The lesson is that no matter how insignificant you seem to the world, God keeps track of you. He’s finally at peace and home at last, home at last.”