Several hundred people gathered on a chilly Tuesday morning (Oct. 22) at the cemetery in Lamar, Ark., to issue a “Welcome home” to Army Corporal Jerry Mack Garrison who was finally laid to rest almost 70 years after he was killed in the Korean War.
Garrison was born Nov. 24, 1929, in Lamar to Elmer Jeff and Maudie Leo Harmon Garrison. He joined the U.S. Army when he was 19, and would be attached to the Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.
He would be one of the almost 34,000 who died in the Korean War, which officially began June 25, 1950, and ended with an armistice on July 27, 1953.
On Dec. 2, 1950, at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the northwestern part of North Korea, Garrison, then 21, was reported missing during his unit’s withdrawal to Hagaru-ri. He died at some point following his disappearance, although the details of his death are unknown. He was presumed dead on Dec. 31, 1953, according to his obituary.
“The experiences of the American soldiers who fought and died in the frigid cold of the Chosin area proved to be some of the most harrowing and tragic in the history of the U.S. Army,” according to the National Museum of the United States Army.
Garrison’s remains were among those who were returned from North Korea by President Donald Trump in July 2018. The remains arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on Aug. 1, 2018, and were processed through the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) laboratory for identification. His identity was confirmed on Aug. 7, 2019.
His name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Garrison was awarded the following medals and awards for his service and sacrifice: Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Army of Occupation Medal and Japan Clasp, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal and Bronze Star Attachment, Combat Infantry Badge, and the United Nations Service Medal.
He was followed in death by his parents; and a brother, Bobby Garrison. Survivors include his sister, Alice Ann Pearson of Russellville; three nephews, Jack Pearson of Little Rock, James J. Pearson of Russellville and Jeffrey Garrison of Lamar; a niece, Tina Neidhart of Farmington; and great-nephews and niece, Rachel Garrison of Clarksville, Jessie Garrison of Clarksville and Edward Hoepfner of Springdale.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jerry Miller, who officiated Garrison’s funeral, said the service not only allowed Garrison’s family to finally recognize his end of life, but also shows those alive the meaning of service and sacrifice. Miller said Garrison likely died providing cover for those retreating. During the service, Miller had the crowd simultaneously yell, “Welcome home,” to recognize Garrison’s return.
A spokesman for Shinn Funeral Service in Russellville said at least 400 were gathered at Tuesday’s ceremony, with almost 200 of those being students from nearby Lamar High School. He also said about 200 attended the visitation service held Monday.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, there remain more than 7,800 service members unaccounted for from the Korean War.