By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack
Utah National Guard
Often referred to as “the Forgotten War,” the Korean War’s significance tends to be overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War. Even in that light, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Korean War service members are still being brought home, especially considering the 7,544 that remain unaccounted for to this day.
Up until a few years ago, it appeared unlikely that service members like U.S. Army Cpl. David B. Milano, who went missing in action Dec. 2, 1950, in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, would be found. But unlike the war, Milano has never been forgotten. His family made sure of that by holding tight to faith in the face of doubt; faith that “little David,” as his mother called him, would one day be returned.
That day has finally come 71 years later. Contained in box 24 of the 55 relinquished by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018, Milano’s remains were identified and repatriated to United States soil. The funeral service was held at Evergreen Memorial Park in Ogden, Utah, April 29, 2022.
“We knew this day would absolutely come, without a doubt,” said Milano’s nephew, David Jordon. Carrying the banner of undying faith, David went on to say that his mother was so confident that “Uncle David” would return that she bought him a burial plot next to hers over 40 years ago in resolute anticipation."
“We knew it was just a matter of time,” said Jordon.
Before their mother’s passing, Milano’s nephews Kevin and David made her a promise to hold the plot reserved. They have kept that promise through the years since.
According to the family, six living relatives within Milano’s extended family bear his first name. Among these are three within his sister’s family, including Kevin David Jordon, David Jordon, and David Jordon’s grandson. This was yet another way in which the family kept Milano’s legacy and memory alive.
One of “the Chosin few” who survived the battle, 95-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. John Cole was also at the funeral in support of the fallen comrade-in-arms.
When asked to share his personal feelings about Milano’s return, Cole couldn’t help but revisit a memory of the battle.
“Part of you is here, and the rest of your mind is still working on where you were, what it was like. The cold was so intense. There were guys that froze to death if they slept more than two hours.”
Cole’s harrowing account falls right in line with what is known about the conditions at the time. Cole continued:
“[The fact that Milano made it home] is important because it’s closure for the family. It’s important to me because he was another Chosin comrade. It’s just very important that they be accounted for and not forgotten.”
Cole also presented a very special medal to Milano’s family.
“The Ambassador for Peace Medal is a ‘thank you’ from the government of South Korea to the veterans who helped save their nation. It’s made out of melted down barbed wire from the 38th parallel, which is significant,” said Cole.
The 38th parallel formed the border between North and South Korea prior to the Korean War. Bright dipped for the final finish, the medal carries incredible meaning for surviving families.
Never forgotten and finally home, Cpl. Milano was honorably buried in the plot waiting for him next to his mother, sister, and father.
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