PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A North Side boy is back with his family and they say "Welcome home."
Sgt. John McLaughlin was 19 years old when he was killed in North Korea Dec. 7, 1950.
He was buried in the frozen ground in a mass grave with other unknown soldiers.
Four years later, under an agreement with China and North Korea to exchange war dead, McLaughlin's remains were exhumed, flown to Hawaii and buried again as an unknown soldier.
It has taken 65 years, but the sergeant is finally home.
"I'm just so proud and overjoyed," said his great niece Joley Stegena, "just proud to be his great niece. He served his country and that's an honor to be here."
An honor indeed. The remains of Sgt. McLaughlin arrived by a Delta cargo plane at Pittsburgh International Airport. Family members held back tears, said prayers and took pictures to document the moment.
Among them was Allegheny County Deputy Jay Stegena. His wife was McLaughlin's niece.
"We are very honored that the Marine Corps was extremely persistent after so long to bring out family member back," said Stegena.
It was in February when the military made the positive identification.
"I remember my grandmother talking about how she wanted to bring him home," said great niece Jaicey Stegena. "I remember her doing the DNA and I feel like this was his way of telling her she is with us and she brought him home."
McLaughlin grew up on Spring Garden Avenue on the North Side. He and his best friend joined the Marines together and that friend was there when McLaughlin was shot and killed.
The friend made it back home but died last November of cancer. McLaughlin was posthumously awarded the bronze star for courage.
Sgt. McLaughlin will be buried at Calvary Cemetery in Hazelwood with full military honors.
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