Gainesville soldier killed in Korea is laid to rest

A funeral is held for Korean War POW/MIA Capt. Turnace Brown; killed 60 years ago his remains were recently identified and returned for burial at Forest Meadows Cemetery in Gainesville on Friday.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 7:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 7:22 p.m.

U.S. Army Capt. Turnace H. Brown's six-decade journey home from the Korean War ended Friday as the Gainesville soldier's remains were buried next to his parents in a burial with military honors attended by four generations of family.

A motorcade that included an Alachua County Sheriff's Office honor guard and motorcycle groups that ride in memory of fallen soldiers led Brown's hearse down Hawthorne Road to Forest Meadows East cemetery.

A military honor guard carried his flag-draped casket to the burial site past members of the Rolling Thunder and Patriot Guard motorcycle groups holding American and POW/MIA flags as well as veterans — including several from Korea — who stood in salute.

A recording of taps was played. There was a rifle salute. An Army officer presented an American flag to Brown's daughter, Nancy Archibald.

Now 66, Archibald was 5 years old when her father, a lieutenant in the Army infantry, was reported missing in action in early December 1950 during the battle of the Chosin Reservoir, where vastly outnumbered American soldiers and Marines faced a Chinese force of more than 100,000 in bitter cold.

In 1954, the Army, relying on reports from other prisoners of war, said her father had died in a frozen prisoner of war camp in December 1950 or January 1951 from combat wounds and a lack of medical attention. Brown was posthumously promoted to captain.

Archibald, who lives in Oklahoma, said she eventually gave up on thinking that her father's remains would be recovered and returned home for burial.

But the Army, she said, kept at it.

"They say they don't stop looking for anything," she said. "That's one good thing people in the U.S. do — they take care of their own."

When the Army called in July to say that DNA tests had showed that some of her father's remains were contained among 208 boxes that North Korea had sent to the United States in the early 1990s, she "thought it was a hoax."

An Army officer escorted the remains from the lab in Hawaii to Florida.

Now, Brown is buried next to his parents, Lehman D. and Emma Whatley Brown, who died never certain of their son's fate.

Speaking at the funeral service before the burial, Emma Jean Brown Lunsford, 88, recalled her older brother as a "prince charming." The man at home while father worked to support the family, he looked out for her while she was on dates and drove a car before he was legal so the family could get around, she said.

He would have turned 90 on Sept. 13. Lunsford was hospitalized that day.

"I celebrated his birthday in the hospital," she said. "I celebrate his birthday every year of my life. He meant that much to me."

Brown graduated from Gainesville High School only after a summer school math class taken at P.K. Yonge, Lunsford said, and their "battle-ax" mother demanded that her daughter take the class as well. He was enrolled at the University of Florida when he was drafted into the Army during World War II, she said, and then attended officer candidate school but did not see combat in World War II.

Because he did not fight in World War II, he saw Korea as "time to do my part," Lunsford said.

Lunsford said she was moved by the outpouring of support for the family from veterans, the Army and the Gainesville community. But she said she'd never have full closure.

"These few bones that are here, not a complete person, is all we have," she said. "There is no closure."

Brown's family's military service dates back to the Civil War. His sister Lunsford and daughter Archibald are both married to retired officers.

He has eight great-grandchildren. One is enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

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