August 15-- The remains of Army Corporal William Silas Smith are back in his hometown of Vidalia 69 years after he was killed in the Korean War.
His nephew, Robert Manders of Toombs County, was notified in June that his uncle's remains had been recovered and positively identified and that set in motion the process for his return.
Vidalia Funeral Home Director Ron Hall picked up his casket at the airport in Savannah Thursday morning, "Once we left the Patriot Honor Guard led us with the Georgia State Patrol ahead of them and the Toombs County deputy sheriff's behind. As we came through Pooler there were two ladder trucks and once we hit Highway 280 through Pembroke there was a nice crowd there.
"When we got to Reidsville, there was an incredible amount of folks including Canoochee EMC that had their bucket truck with a flag on it and even people were at the end of a dirt road who had their whole family there with flags honoring Corporal Smith. When we got to Lyons, fire and police with good representation were there and at the hospital in Vidalia where we turned there were some folks there paying tribute. When we came by J.D. Dickerson Primary School, they had let the whole school out and I though that was fabulous and then Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes had the ladder truck and flag as we came into the funeral home," Hall recounted.
Among those paying respects in Vidalia, Tracey Dismuke, "It just touched my heart to see that someone who has been missing for such a long time can finally come home and we just wanted to come out and show our love and respect for him."
Another woman came because her father, Bill Gillis of Glenwood, was in the Korean War, "My Dad was in the Korean War and it could have been my Dad and I would not have been here," and like many vets, she says her father doesn't talk much about it, "My nephew asked him about it for a school project and he told us some about it." Her Dad was in the Army Signal Corps, "He said he'd be on the telephone pole putting the wires up and the bombs would be flying over his head and the shooting and all that," she remembered.
Corporal Smith's funeral with full military honors is Saturday morning at 11 o'clock at Pinecrest Cemetery in Vidalia.