Cpl. Robert James Tucker, at
the age of 27 was declared missing in action on
He was born
Cpl Tucker leaves to cherish his memory his sister, Norma J. Tucker; niece, Bridgitte (Gregory Sr.) Gamble; several great nieces and nephews; and loving cousins, Rita Nolcox and Marsha Hardiman.
Cpl. Tucker was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Mary Gordon; and 2 brothers, Frank E. Frye and Shirley R. Tucker.
Cpl. Tucker’s remains will arrive home to
Tucker joined the military after his father died in a railroad accident, and his niece, Brigette Gamble, said her mother told her he never expected to make it out of the Korean War.
He would often say that the money that would come to his mother when he died would be able to take care of her for the rest of her life.
Rita Nolcox, Tucker's cousin, said she remembers the soldier's last visit home. "When he came home, everyone wanted to see him. Boy did he look good in his uniform. I was in middle school and I just idolized him," she said.
In the last trip home, Tucker told the family he believed the next time he came home he would be in a pine box, Nolcox recalls.
Tucker was 27 when he was
declared missing in action on
His cousin, Marsha Hardiman remembers the day the military came to inform the family.
It was a Sunday, she remembers, because her aunt, Cpl. Tucker's mother, Margret Tucker, came every Sunday to eat with her family.
"I knew it was something real serious because the adults tell you children to leave the house," she said. When the children were out of the room, Margret Tucker got the news.
"It took her down. She got sick after that, of nerves."
For the first 15 or 20 years after he went missing, Gamble said many family members held out hope he would be found.
Among what the military sent
back from Tucker's foot locker was a picture of Tucker and a young boy in
"One time we got a
collect call from
The family, along with other MIA families, would receive regular updates from the military about what had developed in the search for missing persons.
They tracked stories about soldiers being found in caves or heard he stepped on a landmine.
"We heard so many stories, but you could never hang your hat on anything," said Nolcox. "And you just didn't want to believe it. You felt if anybody could make it, he could. Things would happen that would make you feel maybe he was alive."
About 20 years ago, Gamble and her mother provided DNA at the request of the military.
"You think, ‘yeah, right,'" Gamble said about giving the sample. She saw a special on newly discovered prisoner of war camps from the Korean War and said she wondered if her uncle was in one of them.
"Sure enough he was," she said. The military was able to confirm through dental records and DNA that he was in a mass grave in a prisoner of war camp.
Gamble said that once they knew where he'd died, the military was able to compile records from people who had actually been with him in service, even one who saw him executed. They compiled all the artifacts into a book they provided the family.
"It was really a surprise," said Nolcox. "For anybody to be missing that long, and found, that's like a miracle."
It was declared
"They said he could go
Tucker's mother and aunts had always hoped he would be found, however, and kept a spot in the family grave for him, with a headstone waiting, where he will be buried Sunday.
"To get him home means a whole lot to us," said Nolcox. "I think we should remember him. He gave his life for every last one of us."