FREEPORT, Ill. — For 60 years, Artie Hodapp's family agonized over a heart-rending mystery: Where had the young man, known for his rollicking sense of humor, come to rest after dying in the Korean War?
They couldn't know that the answer was among 17 boxes of remains that the North Koreans turned over nearly two decades ago. Nor could they know that the DNA the Army collected from his surviving siblings several years ago would finally help solve the riddle.
Hodapp's long journey home came to an end this week at a Catholic cemetery in northern Illinois, where he was buried with full military honors beneath a grave marker his sister bought despite not knowing where he was.
"We waited all this while," said Frances Meyers, 88, remembering her parents and siblings who died without knowing Hodapp's fate. "The rest are all gone, but I've got to feel good about it for them too, the rest of the family. Everybody wanted him back but there was nothing we could do about it."