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Missing POW’s remains returned to tearful widow, 94, after 63 years

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The remains of Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gantt were returned to his loving and faithful wife last week after 63 years.

Gantt, a World War II and Korean War veteran who died in a POW camp, told his wife at their final parting that she should remarry if anything were to happen to him, according to the Los Angeles Times, but it was one promise Clara Gantt, 94, couldn’t make.

As her husband’s flag-draped casket was presented to her on the cold, pre-dawn Friday at Los Angeles International Airport, Gantt lifted herself from her wheelchair and wept. Her husband was finally home.

“I am very, very proud of him. He was a wonderful husband, an understanding man,” she told reporters, according to the Times. “I always did love my husband. We was two of one kind. We loved each other. And that made our marriage complete.”

The Times reported:

Joseph Gantt joined the Army in 1942 and served in the South Pacific during WWII. He met his wife on a train from Texas to Los Angeles in 1946 and they married two years later. They had no children.

In the Korean War, he was assigned as a field medic, Battery C, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was taken prisoner by North Korean forces in December 1950. He died in March 1951, it was learned later, but his remains were only recently returned to the U.S. and identified, said Bob Kurkjian, executive director of USO Greater Los Angeles Area.

Clara Gantt, of Inglewood, bought a home and got a gardener so that when her husband returned, he wouldn’t have to work in the yard — he could just go fishing and do whatever he wanted, she said.

“I bought a home for him,” she said. “And I am in that home now.”

In the bedroom is a shrine that includes her husband’s military medals — the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in battle, and the posthumously-awarded Bronze Star with Valor “for his combat leadership actions while defending his unit’s position,” the Times reported.

Joseph Gantt will be buried later this month.

Watch Clara Gantt’s interview with the local CBS News station:


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