Updated: Wednesday, 30 Jun 2010, 6:21 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 30 Jun 2010, 4:44 PM EDT
COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) - It's been six decades but a sailor from Columbus killed in the Korean War will finally rest in peace.
Robert Langwell was the second cousin Brenda Showalter never knew; missing for 60 years. Then last year her phone rang.
"I was just sure it was a scam," remembers Showalter. "Someone was wanting money. This can't be."
But it was true. The remains of Navy Ensign Robert Langwell had been found in South Korea.
"It's just kind of sad that I never met him never got to talk to him and he never got to live life, and gave this ultimate sacrifice for his country," she says.
The Korean War has just started and Ensign Langwell was on board a minesweeper, the USS Magpie, right off the coast, when the ship struck an enemy mine and exploded.
Twelve sailors survived, 21 didn't.
Shortly after the Magpie sank, a South Korean fisherman found a body tangled in his nets. He took it ashore and buried it. Years later, when South Korean officials were looking for remains, he led them right to the spot.
Searchers recovered Langwell's dog tags and his military ID. DNA samples from family provided the final confirmation.
"Apparently this is the first navy personnel that has been recovered who was missing in action," reports Harry McCawley of the Columbus Republic.
Langwell's remains were flown to Hawaii before moving on to Washington D.C.
"It just fills a void," says McCawley. "It's not going to bring him back to life, at least they know where they are. And questions have been answered which here to fore had been uncertain."
Langwell's aunt, Mary Parker, remembers his broken-hearted mother.
"She died assuming he was still lost at sea," remembers Parker. "So she never ever really knew what happened and that was the sad part of is because she was his only child."
"They asked us what we wanted to do about a funeral and we debated that for awhile," says Showalter. "He was born in Columbus, lived in Indianapolis, his parents had moved to Arizona. We just felt the burial in Arlington would be such an honor especially given the special circumstances."
Navy Ensign Robert Langwell will finally rest at Arlington National Cemetery July 12. Nine members of his family will be there at his side.
"I think it's just amazing that the government does this, that they devote so much energy and cost to finding these people and finding their family and doing the right thing, giving them a proper burial even if it's 60 years later," says Showalter.
Just last month, Langwell's name was finally etched into history on the war memorial in Columbus.