A Soldier Returns Home After 62 Years
Army Corp. Pryor Gobble was missing in action during the Korean War; his remains are finally being returned to his family on Sunday.
MENTOR, OH — A black POW/MIA flag flies in front of Glenn and Lois Gobble's Mentor home.
They put it there in memory of Glenn's brother, Army Corp. Pryor Gobble, who has been missing since Dec. 12, 1950.
He was 18 years old when he disappeared near Hagaru-ri, North Korea.
And Sunday -- after 62 years of hoping, wishing, praying and sometimes almost giving up -- the remains of Corp. Pryor Gobble are finally coming home.
'A happy day and a sad day all together'
Pryor Gobble and his four siblings -- brothers Glenn and Harold, sisters Fern and Bernice -- came of age on a farm with their parents, William and Hazel, in Jonesville, VA.
Glenn was Pryor's younger brother. He remembered him as a quiet, responsible man.
"I was 12 when he enlisted and 13 when he went missing," Glenn Gobble said.
Pryor Gobble was 17 when he joined the Army. His mother had to sign for him so he could serve -- a fact that weighed on her heavily after her son went missing.
Lois married Glenn in 1958. Even eight years after Pryor's presumed death, Hazel Gobble could not remember her oldest son without tears, Lois recalled.
Of the five siblings, only Glenn and his sister, Bernice Yeary, are still alive.
Yeary, who also lives in Mentor, said the finding of her brother's remains is a bittersweet experience, in part because most of their family did not live to see it.
"I was happy but sad too because I think of my mother and my dad," Yeary said. "I'm glad he's coming home but it's a happy day and a sad day all together."
'We praised the Lord for it'
After more than six decades, the Gobble family no longer expected to hear anything about their missing member.
"I never thought we'd hear something in our life time," Lois Gobble admitted.
They hoped and prayed but they no longer expected. However, that didn't stop them from doing all they could to get more information on the life and death of Corp. Pryor Gobble.
In 1990, Glenn Gobble and her sister Fern (now deceased) gave the U.S. Army blood samples so they could test recovered remains to determine if they might be their brother's.
"He has left no stone unturned to find his brother's body," Lois Gobble said of her husband.
Meanwhile, unknown to them, Corp. Pryor Gobble's body was beginning his long journey back to the United States.
In 1994, North Korea turned over 14 boxes of remains to the U.S. government.
"In thirteen of the boxes, there were the remains of different soldiers intermingled," Glenn Gobble said. "Pryor was in the 14th box."
However, it took the United States a long time to discover that.
The first strong indication Glenn and Lois received that Pryor Gobble had been found was in April. A woman from the U.S. Army asked Glenn to sign a form to be power of attorney in charge of his brother's remains.
However, the woman could not confirm that Pryor Gobble had been found but when Lois asked her the likelihood of that, she replied, "99.5 percent."
"I actually began to cry and said, 'Glenn, I think they have him,'" Lois said.
On May 23, members of the U.S. Army visited the family and finally confirmed what they had hoped. They told them that DNA tests verified they had found the body of Corp. Pryor Gobble and that he was coming home.
"We praised the Lord for it, you know," Glenn said. "We're so thankful to him for sustaining us for these many years."
'Just because he's been found, it does not come down'
The body of Corp. Pryor Gobble is in Hawaii this morning, attended by an honor guard that will follow it to Mentor.
Gobble's funeral will be 10 a.m. Wednesday at McMahon-Coyne & Vitantonio Funeral Home in Mentor.
He will be buried, with full military honors, immediately after in Concord Township Cemetery.
Even though Corp. Pryor Gobble's journey will soon be over, Glenn and Lois Gobble have no intention of taking their POW/MIA flag down.
"Just because he's been found, it does not come down," Glenn said.
"There are so many others missing," Lois added.