August 7-- Robert Manders doesn’t usually answer his phone while at work, especially when it’s a number he doesn’t recognize. One day this past June was different; he was on break and answered the unrecognized number anyway. He’s really glad he did.
“It happened to be a gentleman from the DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency) and he relayed the news to me that they had found Corporal William Silas Smith,” said Manders.
Manders’ uncle Army Corporal William Silas Smith was reported missing in action on September 1st 1950 in South Korea. The Department of the Army declared him deceased, December 31st, 1953. Manders never knew his uncle personally, only through stories from his mother and grandmother. As the only living relative of Corporal Smith, the news brought closure for him.
Manders said, “I remember growing up hearing my family talk about him, saying he really never had a chance. I always wondered, what do you mean he didn’t have a chance. Then my grandmother said he was killed in the war.” Manders added, “For my family and myself this is a huge relief and a big step towards closure.”
Even after years of no news, Manders always kept hope that he would be found. “Back in the fifties, all my grandmother got was a telegram saying he was listed MIA. I always had that feeling he would be discovered, I just didn’t know when,” said Manders.
Corporal Smith will reach his final resting place on August 17th. “I know there is a lot of people in this community that would enjoy the opportunity to come salute and pay their respects because he paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Manders.
With over 7,000 soldiers still missing from the Korean War, Manders has words of advice for those still without answers. “Don’t give up hope. Don’t give it up. Because without hope what do we have, nothing.”