New York Korean War solider makes final journey back home

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VALATIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Decades after a local soldier went missing in the Korean War, family and friends finally have some type of closure. The Columbia County community came together to honor Army Cpl. Clifford Stanley Johnson and ease some of the family’s pain.

“It was once in a lifetime. It’s historic, it’s amazing, we brought him home, and that’s the bottom line,” said Judy Lemire, niece of Cpl. Johnson.

First responders and members of the Patriotic Guard escorted the casket wrapped in an American flag.

The family has been looking for answers their entire lives. Johnson was reported missing in action on December 6, 1950 in combat near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. He was recently accounted for by the military.

“I had his picture so people would see a face, not just the casket. They would see a person and that he was a human being. He was so young, and that’s the hard part. It was 70 years ago,” said Lemire.

Cpl. Johnson joined the US Army when he was 19. He was a member of Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division and served with the United Nations forces in Korea.

His unit was attacked during combat in the Korean War, and his remains couldn’t be found.  

After decades of radio silence, in 2018, Johnson was one of the 55 sets of remains that were turned over after the meeting between former President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

“We didn’t realize it at first, and then we got a phone call. About a year ago, they confirmed that it was him,” said Lemire.

“It just gives you chills to think after all these years it’s finally closing for the family. That’s what makes all my years in the army as a solider worth it,” said Gary Flaherty, Columbia County Veterans Service Agency Executive Director.

Cpl. Johnson came from a military family. His two brothers served as well. After 71 years, the Johnson family is ready to say their final goodbye.

“We are a very strong family, and people need to know that,” said Lemire.

Johnson will be laid to rest in at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery on May 19.  

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