We are rapidly approaching Memorial Day, and it is a time for heroes. I just learned of one from Georgia. He was a Medal of Honor awardee and went missing during the Korean War. His remains have been identified, and he will soon be reinterred in American mainland soil.
Corporal Luther Herschel Story of Americus, Georgia, was only seventeen years old when he joined the United States Army in 1948. He was nineteen years old when he courageously sacrificed his life in the service of his country. Corporal Story was serving in the 2nd Infantry Division. He was reported as killed in action on September 1, 1950, but his body was never found. His remains were turned over to the U.S. government after the Korean Conflict, with the remains of other POWs and soldiers killed in action.
I could tell you of his bravery, but his Medal of Honor citation speaks for itself. Please read:
Pfc. Story distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. A savage daylight attack by elements of 3 enemy divisions penetrated the thinly held lines of the 9th Infantry. Company A beat off several banzai attacks but was bypassed and in danger of being cut off and surrounded. Pfc. Story, a weapons squad leader, was heavily engaged in stopping the early attacks and had just moved his squad to a position overlooking the Naktong River when he observed a large group of the enemy crossing the river to attack Company A. Seizing a machine gun from his wounded gunner he placed deadly fire on the hostile column killing or wounding an estimated 100 enemy soldiers. Facing certain encirclement, the company commander ordered a withdrawal. During the move, Pfc. Story noticed the approach of an enemy truck loaded with troops and towing an ammunition trailer. Alerting his comrades to take cover, he fearlessly stood in the middle of the road, throwing grenades into the truck. Out of grenades, he crawled to his squad, gathered up additional grenades, and again attacked the vehicle. During the withdrawal, the company was attacked by such superior numbers that it was forced to deploy in a rice field. Pfc. Story was wounded in this action but, disregarding his wounds rallied the men about him and repelled the attack. Realizing that his wounds would hamper his comrades, he refused to retire to the next position but remained to cover the company’s withdrawal. When last seen, he was firing every weapon available and fighting off another hostile assault. Private Story’s extraordinary heroism, aggressive leadership, and supreme devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and were in keeping with the esteemed traditions of the military service.
As we approach Memorial Day, it is fitting that we begin to remember the sacrifices of so many from wars past and present.
According to a USA Today article on April 27, 2023,
“Army Corporal Luther H. Story of Buena Vista, Georgia, was declared missing after a battle on Sept. 1, 1950, around Pusan and Yeongsan, South Korea, where he “displayed conspicuous bravery during intense combat.”
“The supreme sacrifice and heroism of Corporal Luther Story are illustrative of the freedom, security, and prosperity the South Korean people have today,” the statement said.
“Corporal Story was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award, in 1951 for his heroic actions during the battle.”
“When last seen, he was firing every weapon available and fighting off another hostile assault,” U.S. officials said.
According to the press release from the Defense Department POW and Accounting Agency:
“In October 1950, 11 sets of remains were recovered near Sangde-po, South Korea, and eight were identified. One set of remains, designated X-260 Tanggok, was thought to be Story, but investigators at the Central Identification Unit-Kokura in Japan didn’t have enough identifying data to positively ID the remains. X-260 was later transported with all of the unidentified Korean War remains and buried as an Unknown at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, Hawaii. In July 2018, the DPAA proposed a plan to disinter 652 Korean War Unknowns from the Punchbowl. In June 2021, the DPAA disinterred X-260 as part of Phase Three of the Korean War Disinterment Plan and sent the remains to the DPAA laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.
The statement goes on to read, “To identify Story’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis. Story’s name is recorded on the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.”
Story will be buried in the Andersonville National Cemetery in Andersonville, Georgia, on May 29, 2023, with full military honors.
Rest in peace, Corporal, we will be watching for you to come home at last.