News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It was a phone call that two Augusta sisters never saw coming.
After 60 years, their brother's remains were found and identified.
About 62 years ago, 19-year-old Joseph Angus Bowen was called to Korea.
Army Sgt. Bowen's sister, Ann Ford, said, "He was just gone and that he'd be back. He said 'don't worry, I'll be back.'"
But he never made it home after a battle near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea ended his life.
"He was just a happy-go-lucky person, he was funny," Ford said.
Bowen's little sister is much older now, but she and her sister Margie have grown up without their brother and without closure.
His older sister, Margie B. Smoak Gosnell said, "We just think about this little boy who left from home and never came back."
For decades, they've lived instead with photos, a letter from the president and their brother's Purple Heart.
That is, until now.
"Just out of the blue, it came," Ford said. "It's just what I call a bittersweet experience."
In November, they got a phone call, one they thought was a scam.
"All these years, you know, you just accepted it but now it's fresh again, but we're glad," Ford said.
Recovery crews had been working for years. Bowen's remains were found in a grave with the remains of at least nine others.
Smoak said they were allowed in North Korea for a number of hours, she said, "they dig in certain spots just looking but then they would leave a marker."
Half a world away, his sisters credit God and DNA technology.
"They had never given up," Ford said. "They never gave up and we also had almost given up."
But to them, "we just see him as that 19-year-old little boy."
A boy turned soldier who is finally coming home 62 years later.
Bowen will be buried alongside his mother and father will full military honors.
His remains will arrive in Columbia, S.C., on Thursday. His visitation will be Friday from 6 until 8:00 p.m. at The Poteet Funeral Home at 3465 Peach Orchard Road in Augusta.
The funeral service will be held on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at the Hephzibah Baptist Church at 2527 Georgia Highway 88.
Committal services, with full military honors, will follow at Hephzibah Vance Memorial Cemetery.
The family encourages anyone looking to send flowers to instead contribute to the Wounded Warrior Project.