ANDERSONVILLE, Ga. (WRBL) — This Memorial Day a son of Sumter County returned home nearly 73 years after being killed on a Korean battlefield
Corporal Luther Story was buried with full military honors at Andersonville National Cemetery.
Killed in Korea, honored for heroism, Story’s journey ended Memorial Day inside Andersonville National Cemetery.
Judy Wade, Luther Story’s niece and one of eight surviving family members, talked about the significance of her uncle’s first name.
“My daughter-in-law looked up his name,” she said. “Luther, his first name, means soldier of the people. And he really is a soldier of the people.”
He was just 19 when he was killed.
A captain from his old unit showed up to pay respect. He put a unit pin on Judy Wade’s jacket.
“I was listening to the story right now where he went into a machine gun nest, Capt. Jorge Vargas. “And what he was doing was keep up the fire. That’s our unit motto. Part of the 9th Infantry Regiment. And just hearing that made me very prideful.”
For that action, Story earned the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award.
And he earned the respect of a governor who was not even born when Story was killed.
“It is an incredible story of bravery, No. 1. And the highest military honor, obviously,” Kemp said. “Sacrificing his life for those in his unit, and all of us as Americans. I was recently reading a book about George Herbert Walker Bush when he was shot down in the Pacific during the war. A submarine floated up to get him and when he went back years later, that island he was shot down over. The locals of the island said we will never defeat a military that sends a submarine to rescue one person.”
Several hundred people attended the ceremony at what was a Civil War prison camp where captured Union soldiers were detained – and many died.
Marty Kemp, the governor’s wife, was one of those there to pay respects.
“A lot of emotions,” Marty Kemp said. “It just makes you so proud. They stand in there, fight and stay with the wounded. … And he was just a fighter and that’s what he signed up for. They said he signed up when he was 16. … And to give him a proper return home is priceless.”
Story’s return home was made possible by DNA testing that allowed the Army to positively identify him after seven decades.
That was not lost on Congressman Sanford Bishop, whose district includes Sumter County. Bishop was 3 when Story was killed.
“Again, it reflects the fidelity our nation has to those who have served us,” Bishop said. “And it’s also a reflection of the technology that has allowed us to do this. The DNA technology and the advances.”
For Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden, the funeral service and Story’s sacrifice hit close to home. Like Story, Carden is from Sumter County.
“My entire life growing up I saw things with Luther Story’s name on it,” Carden said. “I saw his name on bridges. I saw his name on a monument at the courthouse. It was sort of an abstract concept. But after serving more than 37 years to see our country work to bring him home. There are no words to explain how important and significant this is today.”
And Carden knows that Story was the product of a county known for developing leaders.
“I know I am biased,” he said. “I am from here, but the work ethic that gets instilled in you here is second to none in my opinion.”