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Florida family shares story of Veteran whose remains were found after 67 years

Family from Orange Park shares story ahead of Veterans Day

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – A family from Orange Park is sharing its story. Four brothers growing up in New Jersey all served in the military in the '40s and '50s, but only three came home from war.

What happened to their missing brother, Dick Lucas, was a 67-year mystery, until now.

"Nobody knew," Jennifer Long said Friday, surrounded by her two aunts and her mother. "We had written letters and everybody coming back didn't know anything about him. He was never on any list. So we had no idea."

Dick Lucas was the youngest of the Lucas brothers, who included Long's grandfather and Juliette Lucas' father.

Dick Lucas didn't return from Korea until 67 years later, when his remains were discovered in May.

"Yeah, I want people to understand that, you know, they go and give their life," Long said. "You never really think about what that really means. He was only 17 years old, so he never got to have his own family. And he never got to experience marriage or any of those things that he gave up for us."

Long's grandfather, Leslie Lucas, spent most of his life in Orange Park. He died about six years ago.

He served America in World War II and served aboard the USS Perry. In 1944, the Perry struck a mine and sank.

Leslie Lucas survived and thrived as a man who loved his family. But the loss of his youngest brother stayed with him.

"(My grandfather) was awesome," Long said. "He would always take me places and do stuff with me, and you could just feel the love, but you could feel that sadness too, like you knew something was wrong. But it's good for me to know actually why it was like that."

"I know one thing: He died for our country. Richard did, my Uncle Richard. And that's a lot to be admired," Kathy Lucas said.

Dick Lucas was buried properly at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 2. His family, including the children and grandchildren of Leslie Lucas, count this Veterans Day as a very special one.

"It just means they sacrificed a lot," Juliette Lucas said. "They gave a lot to the country and I just hope people appreciate, you know, that they live in a free country."

"I'm thankful for all the veterans and I'm thankful for the people that went and fought in wars. And they're all heroes," Laura Lucas said.

How did the remains of Dick Lucas turn up? Apparently, a Korean farmer provided a tip about a mass grave from that era and DNA testing matched the remains to the Lucas family.

Dick Lucas had only been deployed two days before he was captured and then killed.

Only two days after he was shipped out to the Korean War, Army Private Dick Lucas was apparently captured, and eventually died as a prisoner of war.

They are more than 7,700 Americans who remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

How did the remains of Dick Lucas turn up? Apparently, a 92-year-old Korean farmer provided a tip about a mass grave from that era and DNA testing matched the remains to the Lucas family.

This article is courtesy of WJXT-TV.


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