WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — David Lilley never knew his brother Jack. But on Tuesday, David Lilley received the Purple Heart on Jack’s behalf — and was finally able to lay his brother to rest.

Army Pfc. Jack E. Lilley, 19, died July 20, 1950, when the enemy forced his unit to retreat from Taejon, South Korea. His body was never found, nor any remains recovered that could be identified as him.

Until last year, that is, when DNA and other analyses proved remains from a common grave were his.

Now Pfc. Lilley has come home to family who were finally able to honor him properly. His brother David could say the goodbye that his own parents — who had already died — never got to say for their missing-in-action son.

“I’m his baby brother,” said David Lilley after the memorial held with full military honors in Hill Funeral Home, and then graveside at Northlawn Memory Gardens Cemetery. “So I didn’t know him. Now I’m reunited with him after all these years.”

The list of Jack’s awards presented at the memorial service to David Lilley by Maj. Gen. James Camp on Pfc. Lilley’s behalf included: the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with one bronze service star, the Combat Infantryman Badge First Award, the United Nations Service Medal, The Republic of Korea Korean War Service Medal, and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

The Patriot Guard Riders escorted the funeral cortege as it processed to Northlawn Memory Gardens Cemetery.

People lined North State Street, Westerville, waving American flags, standing at attention, or saluting as the funeral passed by. The Westerville Fire Department put ladders up at the cemetery entrance.

At the graveside, soldiers gave a gun-salute, and a piper played “Amazing Grace” before family and their friends laid white roses on Pfc. Lilley’s casket.

In March 1951, seven sets of remains were recovered from a common grave a few miles east of Taejon – only one set could not be identified, according to information released by the military. Those remains were designated Unknown X-769 Tanggok and were later transported with all of the unidentified Korean War remains and buried as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

Lilley was declared non-recoverable in January 1956.

But in 2021, dental, anthropological, and mitochondrial DNA analysis showed the remains were Lilley, and he was able to finally go home.

Lilley’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for, according to a military media release.

More than 7,500 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

Army Pfc. Jack E. Lilley.