LIVONIA, Mich. (WXYZ) — A metro Detroit native lost behind enemy lines 71 years ago is finally brought home and laid to rest.
This weekend, Helen Fennel flew home to Georgia after finally getting to say goodbye to an older brother she last saw when she was just 10 years old.
“We thanked the Lord for bringing him home,” Fennel said.
Army Private Class Philip Hoogacker left home at 23 to serve his country, and fight overseas in the Korean War.
Her memories of him are scarce but vivid.
“Eating peanut butter out of a jar with a spoon… that’s about it," she said.
Philip never came home to metro Detroit and for more than 70 years his family wondered what had happened to him. He was reported missing in action.
His younger brother Edgar Hoogacker used to imagine that maybe Philip had survived the war.
“I was wishing that maybe he’d jumped out of the Army and found a Korean gal married her up and had about three kids by now,” Edgar said.
The U.S. military believes Philip submitted DNA, hoping to help the military find and bring their brother home. Finally, through DNA and dental records, the military was able to positively identify Philip's remains.
His funeral was at the Harris Funeral Home in Livonia where he finally got the hero's recognition his family had always wanted for him.
“We have police honor guards, we had the army, and the 21-gun salute," Edgar said.
Philip was buried in Livonia's Parkview Memorial Cemetery, just feet from his mother.
Hoogacher's family wants people to know there are still thousands of families who don't have closure. A quick search of the POW and MIA account agency through The Department of Defense shows more than 7,500 Americans' remains missing from the Korean war alone.