COVINGTON, Va. – 70 years after going missing in action during the Korean War, a soldier from Covington is finally returning home.
Ralph Cale leaving Covington to join the Army at the age of 17 is a memory his mother documented in an old family bible.
His sister Constance Gadd was just 4 years old at the time and doesn’t remember, but other memories of her brother still haunt her to this day.
“I remember the girls crying and me looking up and asking them, ‘Why are you crying?’” Gadd said.
Her parents received a telegram saying Cale had gone missing in action in December 1950 while fighting in the Korean War. The news shook their mother of 12 to her core.
“They literally had to carry her in. She was not able to walk and I remember that vividly,” Gadd said.
Four years later, Cale was declared dead despite no remains ever being found.
“That was the hardest part of all, not knowing, not knowing if he had been taken capture,” Gadd said.
Family members spent years searching for answers until they finally got a phone call last August saying Cale had been found.
“It was like the Fourth of July and Christmas, New Year’s Eve all together. It was just, it was so exhilarating. You had to cry. After all this time, are you sure? I kept asking them, ‘Are you sure?’” Gadd said.
Cale was just one solider identified among 55 cases of remains from the war that North Korea sent to the U.S. in 2018. DNA from a single leg bone confirmed it was him.
“It’s just an awesome thing to know he’s coming home. He’s coming home,” Gadd said.
Gadd will finally be reunited with her brother this week when his remains are flown to Washington, D.C. ahead of his burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
“We’re going to see to it that he gets a place of honor because he deserves that. He deserves that above all because he gave all,” Gadd said. “Now we can close that chapter because he’s been found and he’s coming home.”