When Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gantt left for the Korean War in 1950, he told his young wife to remarry if he didn’t return.
Clara Gantt told him she wouldn’t. She’d wait for him. And she did, for 63 years.
On Friday, his remains, in a flag draped coffin, were delivered back to Los Angeles with full military escort.
Clara, now 94, stood from her wheelchair, tears streaming. The pain of her loss was clearly etched in her face.
“I told him I missed him so much,” she said softly. “And I expect him to come home and he didn’t,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
Sgt. Gantt had served in World War II and remained in the Army after that conflict, going to Korean as a field medic.
Clara last heard from him just before Christmas, 1950. He was taken prisoner shortly after that final letter.
Over the years, Clara was active in an organization made up of the families of MIA veterans — there are 8,000 still from the Korean War — and she often traveled to Washington, D.C. to hear updates from government officials.
She never even dated anyone else. She wasn’t going to “be caught” with another man while she was waiting for her husband, Clara said. She also covered her bedroom wall with military memorabilia and her husband’s medals.
Clara learned in October that her husband’s remains had been found and verified. Officials believe he died in 1951.
And on Friday, Joseph and Clara were reunited.
“I am very, very proud of him. He was a wonderful husband, an understanding man,” she told reporters at LAX. “I always did love my husband, we was two of one kind, we loved each other. And that made our marriage complete.”