COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — On Memorial Day, Corporal Luther Story will be laid to rest at the Andersonville National Cemetery – nearly 73 years after he was killed in Korea.

For his family – or what’s remains of it – that closure started this week when Story’s remains returned home to Georgia.

Luther Story’s mother, father, and sister all passed away without getting to see their loved one buried in South Georgia soil.

So, for his niece, Judy Wade, this moment offers a wide range of emotions.

“All that means we don’t wonder anymore whether his body was totally destroyed or whether he was, you know … It’s hard to tell you what it means,” Wade said.

Since September 1, 1950 – before Judy Wade was born – her family has waited for Luther Story to come home to Sumter County.

That was the day he was killed on a battlefield in Korea. Born in Buena Vista and just 19 when he died, Luther Story was a war hero. He was killed in one of the early battles of the Korean War.

“Well, I didn’t know how big a loss it was until I started getting around the people that I’ve been around in Washington and everywhere I’ve been,” Wade said. “I never realized how much my momma and my granddaddy and grandmama hurt because of his loss. And now I’m beginning to understand it a whole lot more than I ever did.”

It was such a big deal that General Omar Bradley – the Army’s last five-star commander – posthumously presented Story’s father with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military recognition.

And 73 years later it was still a big deal. Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Coyne escorted the remains back to Georgia from Hawaii. Here’s what happened in Phoenix.

“As we approached the gates to deplane there was a procession of police officers and fire departments,” Coyne said. “Their vehicles were lined along the gates and they were all waiting for Corporal Story to arrive. And they rendered a salute as he got off the plane. And I was able to shake every one of their hands and thank them for their service to their community and also for their respect to Corporal Story and his sacrifice.”

Judy Wade’s mother, Gwendolyn Story Chambliss, died in February 2017. So this week, that leaves Judy Wade to close the book on a painful and heroic chapter in her family’s history – and the nation’s history.

Judy Wade/Luther Story’s niece

“It’s going to mean that I don’t have to be concerned anymore or worry anymore about whether or not he’s coming home because he’ll be there. And I’ll know he’s there. I know he already was with Grandmama, momma, Granddaddy up in heaven.”

Story was a private first class when he was killed. He was posthumously promoted to corporal. The funeral will be Monday at 2 p.m. in the Andersonville National Cemetery.