DETROIT (WTOL) - A dozen family members packed into a van headed from Oregon to the Detroit Metro Airport to bring Private First Class Leo Duquette home for the first time in 68 years.
"You just can't put words to them, you hold them sacred in your heart," Duquette's sister Ruth Tepper said.
Duquette persuaded his parents to let him enlist at 17. He was stationed in Japan and then sent to Korea. He was listed missing on July 11, 1950.
"We never let him completely disappear, he was always present," Tepper said.
His siblings grew up, his parents passed on, but the next generation all learned about their Uncle Leo.
"I always had a picture in the living room, My oldest today was telling me she would ask "oh, who's that?" Well, that's your Uncle Leo," Duquette's oldest sister Marylou Gargac said.
Now, those nieces and nephews he never met are traveling with their parents, Leo's siblings, to bring him home.
"It was like you were going to see him for the first time, in spirit of course," Tepper said.
And they did reunite, on the tarmac, with an honor guard to welcome him home. The family is so thankful, but know others are still waiting for answers.
"There are still people struggling to find their loved ones and if this just gives them a glimmer of hope, just a glimmer, then we hope we're helpful," Tepper said.
Visitation for Private First Class Leo Duquette will be on December 14, 2018 at the Eggelston Meinert and Pavley Funeral Home. The funeral will be on December 15 at 10 a.m. Services are open to the community and active and retired military members.