SAN FRANCISCO - A U.S. Army soldier from San Francisco is set to be buried more than 60 years after his death at a Korean War prison camp, a newspaper reported.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Steinberg will be buried on Thursday with full military honors in the same plot as his brothers at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, according to The San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/13snAEX). His remains were returned to his family in the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday.
"I don't know that there are words to describe the feelings I have. It's like a miracle," Marlene Baisa, Steinberg's niece, told the Chronicle.
Steinberg's remains were among those of hundreds of U.S. service members that were turned over by North Korea in the early 1990s.
In 2006, the Department of Defense asked relatives, including Steinberg's, to provide blood samples to help identify the bodies, the Chronicle reported.
Steinberg's family members were told earlier this year that mitochondrial DNA testing and dental records had led to a match.
"I hate to use the word closure, but I think this is it," Baisa said. "He'll be with his brothers now, and we won't have to worry about where he is and what happened to him. Now we know the whole story."
Steinberg's family long knew he died of malnutrition at the prison camp through accounts from other service members. He had been captured and taken prisoner after the Chinese Army attacked U.S. troops near Hoengsong, South Korea in February 1951.
Steinberg was marched to Suan Bean Camp in North Korea, where he died at the age of 31, according to the Chronicle.
He grew up in San Francisco's Mission District before being drafted by the U.S. Army in World War II. He fought in the Philippines and New Guinea during the war. He rejoined the Army after struggling to find a job, Baisa said, and was posted in Japan before the Korean War broke out.
In a letter to a sister from Japan, he said he wanted to earn a pension so he didn't have to worry about food and where to sleep, the Chronicle reported.