Remains of man missing since Korean War to be laid to rest in Ogden
OGDEN — “My mom had so much faith that they were going to bring David home one day,” Kevin Jordan said of his uncle, who was declared missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950. According to U.S. Army records, Cpl. David Milano never returned with his unit after retreating during battle at Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.
Following a summit meeting in June 2018, President Donald Trump negotiated the return of U.S. Korean War servicemen with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Box 24 of the 55 sets of remains that underwent a forensic review at Wonsan, North Korea, was found contain those of 17-year-old Milano.
“I can’t even describe the emotions,” Jordan said.
Jordan said it was a grueling process trying to bring his uncle home. Governmental “red tape,” the death of his older brother and a refusal to relinquish rights from his sister, who suffers from brain damage, delayed Jordan’s efforts until recently.
Jordan’s brother David and sister Delores Bitton joined him with their families at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Tuesday to greet their long lost loved one who they had never met but knew well through their mother.
“She kept Uncle David’s memory alive all these years,” Jordan said.
Milano and his sister Delores were very close up until he was reported MIA. Having been blind and living near the projects on the South Side of Chicago, Jordan said Milano was his mother’s protector.
Delores Milano attended a blind school in Chicago where she met and later married Tunney Jordan. Milano and Tunney Jordan had never met, but Kevin Jordan read a letter Milano had written his father asking him to take care of his “sis.”
Jordan describes how he came to know his uncle through letters, photographs and stories from his mother. “Uncle David was her everything,” he said.
The Milanos lost their dad to appendicitis when Delores was just 3 years old. Jordan said his grandma Lida fell on hard times after his grandpa Albert’s passing.
Jordan said he remembers stories of Christmas mornings when his mother and uncle would get an orange in their stockings because that’s what they could afford.
Financial difficulties were as much of Jordan’s upbringing as they had been for his mother and uncle. He said it was hard for his parents to find work, both being blind.
“We were like his eyes,” Jordan said of his brothers and sisters helping their father with janitorial work outside of school.
After moving to Ogden in 1974 with the help of friends they had met in blind school, the Jordans started a new life taking Milano’s memory with them.
Delores Milano purchased a burial plot for her brother at Evergreen Memorial Park when it opened in the 1980s. Milano will be laid to rest there next to his mother, sister and brother-in-law, Tunney Jordan, this Saturday. According to an obituary recently published in the Standard-Examiner, a funeral mass for Milano will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at St. James Catholic Church in Ogden.
Jordan said he was inspired by his uncle, who as the sole son of his family was offered reassignment under the Sole Survivor Policy meant to protect members of a family from the draft during peacetime or hazardous duty if they have lost family members to military service, but refused.
“I wanted to be like my uncle,” said Jordan, who served in the Air National Guard for 23 years before he was forced to retire at 61 years old, losing out on an opportunity to act as an escort bringing his uncle home to the United States.