STERLING – A Sterling soldier missing in action for 69 years will be laid to rest at home in May.
Cpl. John Krebs, 19, fought and died in battle in Chochiwon, South Korea on July 11, 1950, but was listed as MIA because he could not be accounted for after that battle.
That changed in December, when remains found in 1951 were identified as Krebs through dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Krebs will have a proper military funeral with an Army firing squad performing a 21-gun salute and a bugler playing Taps at 1 p.m. May 17 with burial in Calvary Cemetery, next to his twin brother, George, who died that day in the same battle.
The brothers were members of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division.
Krebs’ next of kin are his niece and nephew-in-law, De’Vetta and Jimmy Perkins, who live in Texas. They and De’Vetta’s mom, Penny, will attend the service.
“We’re planning on coming and the Army is paying for our airfare,” Jimmy Perkins said Wednesday. “He deserves to be honored. It’s been a long time getting him home.”
Also helping to honor Krebs will be the Illinois 2 Chapter of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle group, based in Wauconda. The group’s primary mission is to bring POW/MIA soldiers to their homes in the U.S., said Ret. Col. Wayne Kirkpatrick, of the Rolling Thunder chapter.
“We provide escorts and do whatever we can to help the families,” Kirkpatrick said. “We’re a bunch of patriotic guys, and many of us are veterans. Cpl. Krebs will be the seventh MIA we’ve escorted.”
Schilling Funeral Home in Sterling is handling funeral arrangements and the graveside service will include full military rites.
Rolling Thunder will be involved in the entire transport of Krebs remains once he arrives in Illinois.
“We will do a dignified transfer from aircraft to hearse and along with the hearse to the funeral home,” Kirkpatrick said. “Then we will have a motorcycle transport of the hearse to the cemetery.”
Area residents are invited to attend the graveside service to show their support to a true war hero, Kirkpatrick said.
“Sterling reflects the hearts of America, and we ask the local community to come and pay their respects.”