The casket of U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Gantt is prepared to be lowered from the plane on Friday in Los Angeles. Sixty-three years after Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph E. Gantt went missing in action during the Korean War, his remains were returned to his 94-year-old widow in a solemn ceremony at Los Angeles International Airport before dawn Friday.
Clara Gantt, the 94-year-old widow of U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Gantt, weeps in front of her husband's casket after it was lowered from the plane.
The casket of U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Gantt rests inside a hearse on Friday.
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The sun had not yet risen when the United Airlines jetliner made its way into Los Angeles International Airport on Friday.
Clara Gantt, 94, had been waiting for this moment for six decades. Of course, for six decades, she expected that this would be a happy reunion. She expected that the love of her life would come bounding off an airplane after two wars and come back home, resuming the life they had planned for each other.
Talking to reporters at the airport, she said she had bought a house and gotten a gardener so her beloved Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gantt could fish or do whatever he wanted to be happy.
"I always did love my husband," she said. "We was two of a kind. We loved each other."
But when the gates at the belly of the plane opened, they revealed a flag-draped coffin. Gantt died as a prisoner of war in 1951 during the Korean War.
On Friday, he was home at long last.
It wasn't the happy ending that Clara wanted. But she was grateful for the closure.
"I am so happy that I was living to accept him," Gantt said.
Still, as she approached the casket, she began to weep.