*On Friday morning 94-year-old widow Clara Gantt would finally be able to say goodbye to the husband she had not seen in 60 years.
Sgt. First Class Joseph Gantt had been presumed dead after he was taken prisoner during the Korean war. He had been defending his unit’s position near Kunu-ri’ in December 1950 when it happened. He died as a POW in March 1951. Now, Mrs. Gantt is accepting her husband’s remains at Los Angeles International Airport in preparation of an honor guard ceremony.
SFC Gantt’s remains were identified at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and forensics labs in Honolulu, then flown to Los Angeles International Airport for Friday’s honor guard ceremony.
“I’m so happy — it’s a closure. He’s coming home,” said widow Clara Gantt, who refused her husband’s request that she re-marry in the event of his death. “He was always looking out for my well-being. He wanted me to re-marry and find some man who could give me more than he did.
“I told him, ‘No, no. You had a hard time getting me to say yes, and there won’t be no more marriage.’ So, here I am, still his wife, and I’m going to remain his wife until the Lord calls me home.”
Gantt sobbed as her husband’s flag-draped casket was removed from the plane before an honor guard transfer to a hearse ahead of a planned burial Saturday in Inglewood, Calif.
Joseph Gantt was born in 1924 Maryland. He joined the Army in 1942. Their love story started nearly 70 years ago when he met his future wife as the two happened to take the same train from Texas to Los Angeles in 1946.
The soldier and other service members were bound for Washington, but Gantt’s final stop was Los Angeles.
“He wrote me a letter and told me to come up there,” Gantt said. “We were sweethearts for a while, and I got to know him a little better.”
Her sweetheart asked her to marry him, but Gantt insisted on exercising due diligence. She needed to be certain that the stranger she met on a Southern California-bound train was the right man for her and that she was the only woman for him.
“So many soldiers already were married and already had a wife,” said Gantt. “I didn’t want to be embarrassed.
“When the government said there was no second party, I was pretty happy about that.”
They married in June 1948.
“He was a good husband. He was a good soldier,” Gantt said. “That was something he loved. He got out of (World War II) and right into another. That was his life.”
SFC Gantt had been assigned as a Field Medic, Battery C, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. For his combat leadership and heroic actions on the day he was captured he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor.
He also earned the Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Philippine Liberation Ribbon, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.