MASSILLON – A local U.S. Army sergeant who went missing during the Korean War is getting another tribute aimed at recognizing his life.
The remains of Vernon Judd were returned home in late 2019 from overseas for a burial with military honors.
On Saturday, members of his family will be presented a KIA (Killed In Action) Honor Flag during a noon ceremony at American Legion Post No. 221, 427 Lincoln Way E.
The event is open to the public. A free lunch is to be provided by Mission BBQ.
Mark Weldon, adjutant for the Massillon legion, said it's an honor for the organization to host a ceremony for Judd.
"It's a privilege to host these kind of things," Weldon said Wednesday. "We (often) do things (dealing with) military funerals and burials."
KIA Honor flag dates back to early 1990s
The red and black KIA Honor Flag was developed in 1993. It has been a symbol of U.S. military members who lost their lives while serving the nation, said Chris Collins, director of the Castroville, California-based KIA Honor Flag Organization.
"It's about remembering the fallen hero," said Collins, a retired Army infantryman who spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan. "But mainly, it's a way to stand behind the Gold Star Family."
A Gold Star Family is the immediate family or family member of a fallen troop who died while serving in a time of conflict.
Collins said the KIA flag to be presented Saturday to the Judd family will be the first in Ohio for a missing Korean War soldier whose remains were returned home.
Thousands of KIA flags have been handed out to families nationwide since 1993, Collins added.
About Army Sgt. Vernon Judd
A little more than 70 years ago, 22-year-old sergeant Judd went missing as a member of the U.S. Army Company D, 89th Medium Tank Battalion, 35th Infantry Division. He was captured by Chinese Communist forces near Ipsok, North Korea, and taken to a prisoner camp. He remained there until his death on Feb. 15, 1951.
Judd sent a letter home to his family three days before he was taken prisoner. He grew up in the Elton area of Sugar Creek Township.
In July 2018, a U.S. military aircraft brought 55 cases believed to be the remains of U.S. service members back to the United States after President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Judd's remains were included.
Judd was buried in September 2019 at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery near Rittman.
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This article originally appeared on The Independent: Korean War veteran Sgt. Vernon Judd to be honored at Saturday ceremony