|Birth: ||Oct. 25, 1926|
|Death: ||Nov. 2, 1950, North Korea|
A True American Hero is now home. He gave it all to his country!
Wallace "Bob" Slight
Published Friday December 3, 2010
After 60 years, soldier is home
By Andrew J. Nelson
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
It was 1953, at the end of the Korean war, and Emma Edwards sat in her Stuart, Iowa, living room diligently listening to the radio.
Remembering Bob Slight
Memorial service: Stuart-Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, 219 N.W. Second St., Stuart, Iowa at noon Friday, followed by a graveside service at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter, Iowa. The public is welcome.
Flags: Iowa Gov. Chet Culver has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff Friday in honor of Slight.
Memorial contributions: Korean War Project, P.O. Box 180190, Dallas, Texas 75218-0190, or at www.koreanwar.org. Proceeds will be used to aid in identification and recovery of remains of U.S. service members still missing from the Korean War.
Source: Iowa National Guard
One of her sons, Army Sgt. 1st Class Wallace "Bob" Slight, had been missing in action since 1950. Each evening, she would listen as an announcer recited the names of American prisoners of war released that day. Each evening, her son's name went unspoken.
"She would say, ‘Well, maybe tomorrow,'" recalled another son, Dean Porter. "You could see the sorrow in her eyes. We'll never know the tears she shed in private. ... She went to her grave never hearing about her boy."
Wallace Slight finally came home this week, 60 years and one month after being reported missing in a fierce, frigid Korean War battle.
His remains will be buried Friday at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter. Porter, 72, a Guthrie Center pastor, will perform the graveside service.
The funeral ends decades of uncertainty for the family.
For four years after he was declared missing, relatives didn't know whether Slight had been killed or captured. He was officially declared dead in 1954, and it was some 40 years more before his remains and those of many other soldiers were returned to the United States. It was another decade before DNA testing would confirm his identity.
Porter, Slight's half brother, finally got official word Oct. 13 from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.
"When they called me, it was a big weight that rolled off my shoulders," Porter said Thursday.
He and another brother had provided blood samples for DNA testing four or five years ago. "It's just mind-boggling what they have to do to identify these remains," he said. "I don't know how they do it."
Slight, who was 24 when he died, grew up in the Stuart area. He joined the Army as an infantryman in 1945, arriving in Germany after World War II ended. He enjoyed hunting and stayed in close contact with his family.
Porter recalled that Slight, home on furlough from Germany, once asked to see his little brother's bicycle.
"I was talking to him on the way out to the shed. I was saying (another) brother had a really neat bicycle, and I opened that door and there I saw a brand new Columbia bicycle. ... He brought that for me — a brand new bicycle."
Slight eventually wound up with the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea. He was last seen after his unit established a defensive line near the Chinese border, according to the Iowa National Guard, which is providing funeral honors.
On November 1, 1950, two Chinese divisions attacked. The U.S. lines collapsed, and the division withdrew.
Slight was reported missing the next day.
His family never found out exactly what happened. They believed Slight was killed in combat.
"He was not taken prisoner," Porter said. "I kind of picture it like the Little Bighorn, kind of like a massacre. There were so many Chinese ... They just overran the troops."After listening in vain night after night for his name on the radio, Porter said, "We just kind of gave up any kind of hope. ... We always wondered someday if they might find him."
Slight was one of thousands of soldiers declared missing during the conflict. The Department of Defense says 8,021 service members remain unaccounted for from Korea. There are 74,064 missing from World War II and 1,708 from Vietnam.
On Monday, Porter flew to Hawaii to retrieve his brother's remains. He returned home Wednesday.
Escorted by seven local law enforcement vehicles, the somber procession to a Guthrie Center funeral home passed through Panora around dusk. About a dozen people lined Main Street, waving American flags.
The scene nearly brought Panora Police Chief Matt Reising, one of the escorts, to tears.
"Here was this guy who served our country in a war. Nobody knew what happened to him for years and years. And finally, he's coming home," Reising said. "It's a huge deal."
For Porter, bringing his older brother home was an incredible — and emotional — honor.
"I know there's a lot of people out there who still have relatives that have not been located," he said. "I just want to tell them: Don't give up hope."
Contact the writer:
Remains of Iowa Korean War vet coming home after 60 years
by Radio Iowa Contributor on November 30, 2010.
Funeral is: Friday, December 3, 2010 in Stuart, Iowa.
in Human Interest,Military
The remains of an Iowan who died in Korea more than 60-years ago will finally be laid to rest in his home state this week. Twenty-four-year old Sergeant First Class Wallace LeRoy Slight of Stuart, Iowa was killed in action in November, of 1950, but his remains were not found until 1993. The remains were not officially identified until last month. Craig Twigg, with the Twigg Funeral Home in Guthrie Center, says Slight was killed in action near Unsan, North Korea on November second, 1950.
Twigg says his squadron's convoy was ambushed and the men were buried in a mass grave, and that's where Slight's remains were found. Twigg says Slight's brother, Dean Porter, was contacted this year and asked to provide a blood sample for D-N-A testing. He says it took about a month and there was a positive identification of the bones.
The D-N-A match on October 14th of this year, confirmed the previously unidentified remains of Sergeant Slight were among those buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as "The Punchbowl," in Hawaii. Twigg says when Porter called to make the funeral arrangements for his brother, he was obviously proud of his service to the country.
Twigg says his brother wanted everyone to know about his brother's service and so that everyone knows about the sacrifices made by soldiers and how thankful we should be for them.
A funeral will be held for Sergeant First Class Wallace Slight at Mt Vernon United Methodist Church in Stuart, at Noon, on Friday, December 3rd, with burial at the Iowa Veteran's Cemetery just south of Interstate 80, near Adel, Iowa. Dean Porter will escort the casket home from Hawaii prior to the funeral.
According to records provided by the Korean War Project, Slight was a member of Company M, Third Battalion, Eighth Cavalry Regiment, First Cavalry Division. For more information on Korean War Veterans declared MIA or KIA, log on to: www.koreanwar.org.
FINAL REST: The remains of an Iowa soldier killed in the Korean War are returning to Iowa for burial
Iowa Korean War
3:49 p.m. CST, November 30, 2010
final-rest-the-remains-of-An Iowa soldier who died in the Korean War is finally getting his proper burial this week.
Funeral services are being held Friday for Sergeant First Class Wallace Slight.
Slight died in North Korea during a fire fight in November of 1950. Officials found the remains of several soldiers in 1993 in a mass grave. Slight's brother entered a DNA sample earlier this year to confirm the identity of the remains.
SFC Slight's remains return to the Des Moines Airport Tuesday. The funeral is Friday at Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church in Stuart, Iowa. A burial will then follow at the Iowa Veteran's Cemetery in Van Meter.
By Jean Welford:
Sergeant First Class Slight was a member of Company M, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. He was Killed in Action while fighting the enemy near Unsan, North Korea on November 2, 1950. His remains were not recovered. On October 14, 2010, the Korean War Project received word that the remains of SFC Slight had been identified. Burial is on December 3rd, 2010 after his brother, Dean, escorts the casket home from Hawaii. The funeral will be held at Mt Vernon Methodist Church, Stuart, Iowa. Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. servicemen. North Korean documents turned over with one of the boxes indicated the remains in one of the boxes were exhumed near Unsan County, North Pyongan Province. This location correlates with the location of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment on November 2, 1950. Analysts from DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) developed case leads with information spanning more than 58 years. Through interviews with eyewitnesses, experts evaluated circumstances surrounding the soldier's captivity and death and researched wartime documentation of his loss. Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA, which matched that of Slight's brother and half-brother used in the identification.
Article was emailed to me by Mr. Larry Slight Nov. 30, 2010 Thank you
The Funeral Day -
Wallace "Bob" Slight's mother sat by the radio every night for years, waiting to hear whether the U.S. Army had identified the remains of her son, a sergeant who disappeared while serving in the Korean War in 1950.
He was the second son whom Emma Jessup Slight and her husband, John, had lost to war. Her eldest son, Sammy, died while serving in World War II.
"Mom would set the radio out on the table and listen in the hope they would say Bob's name. Then she'd say, 'Well, maybe tomorrow night,' " recalled the Rev. Dean Porter of Guthrie Center, a brother of Slight's.
Emma died in 1963, long before the news finally came: About a month ago, the military informed the family it had identified Slight's remains.
When Porter was notified, he looked to the sky and said, "Mom, I'm bringing Bob home."
On Friday, Porter was among more than 200 mourners who turned out for a memorial service with full military honors for a soldier gray-haired relatives remembered as an unselfish, fun-loving 24-year-old.
The services marked the end of a long search for answers by Slight's family and the military since he was reported missing on Nov. 2, 1950. And they came amid increased tensions on a peninsula where U.S. soldiers still stand guard to prevent war between North Korea and South Korea.
Slight was born in Greenfield and grew up in Stuart. He first enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1945, serving in Germany. He re-enlisted in 1950 and deployed to Korea.
He disappeared after his unit set up a defensive line in Unsan County, North Pyongan Province, North Korea. Two Chinese divisions attacked the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division on Nov. 1, 1950, near the China border, forcing the collapse of U.S. lines and withdrawal of forces. Slight was among more than 350 U.S. servicemen missing in action after the battle, according to Army information.
A truce was declared in 1953. The next year, on Feb. 4, 1954, Slight was declared dead, but his remains were never found.
Nearly 40 years passed. Then in 1993, North Korea turned over 50 boxes of purported remains. Another decade passed. In 2003, family members saw Slight's name on the website of the Korean War Project and called the Department of Defense to seek more information. Porter and his brother, James Edwards of Advance, Mo., gave DNA samples to the military in hopes of a match with some of the remains North Korea had turned over.
The military said a combination of dental records, circumstantial evidence and the DNA samples from the family helped identify the remains.
Before the memorial service, at Stuart-Mount Vernon United Methodist Church in Stuart, a pianist played the traditional tune "America," Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" and Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings."
The ceremonies spread over three hours, from Stuart to the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter, where Slight was buried.
At the church, a Christmas tree, lit all in white, towered behind Slight's flag-draped coffin. A single red poinsettia framed a portrait of Slight on one side of the altar. A single wreath adorned the other side.
Family stories were retold: Slight bought his bikeless brother, Dean, a bicycle. Then he carried it home to avoid leaving tell-tale tracks and left it in the garage to surprise Dean later.
Another time, he wrote a letter to an infant cousin and told her, "I can't wait to get home to spoil you."
In one of his last letters, Slight wrote that it appeared his unit might not be needed much longer. He thought he might be sent to Japan. He wanted to buy a convertible - "probably a Chevrolet" - when he got home.
At the church, few tears flowed. But Porter and several others briefly lost composure at the cemetery when he received the folded American flag.
Survivors include Porter and his wife, Mary; James Edwards and his wife, Karen, of Advance, Mo.; a sister, Addie Hand of West Des Moines; and sister-in-law Marilyn Slight of Grimes, in addition to cousins, nieces and nephews.
The family said they cherished the tranquility of closure and praised the dedication of those serving in the military.
A full color guard was present, a trumpeter sounded taps, and flag bearers and seven riflemen paid tribute in ceremonial ways.
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver issued a statement calling Slight a "true American hero."
"I'm so honored he is back home," Porter said. "My message is you should never give up hope. The government hasn't."
It was my honor to sponsor an American hero's memorial.
I live in Minneapolis. I was in Des Moines on business and decided to go to the Veterans Cemetery to visit this hallowed ground. While there I took photos as I walked around and I was pleased to see that Mr. Slight's memorial needed a photo.
Since I took so many photos, are there any memorials that you would like pix for? I just may have it.
Thank you so much for your very nice note.
John F. Slight
Emma D Edwards (1904 - 1963)
Samuel E Slight (1922 - 1944)*
Hershel W Slight (1924 - 1953)*
Wallace LeRoy Slight (1926 - 1950)
Allen E. Slight (1929 - ____)*
A Man that gave his life for his country and the mission.
Iowa Veterans Cemetery
Created by: Gary L. Pettit
Record added: Nov 30, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62377918