CROWLEY, La. (KLFY) – Flags lined the streets of Crowley as family and friends welcomed home Sgt. First Class Lawrence James Smith, and after 65 years of uncertainty, his family finally laid him to rest.
Sgt. smith died in a North Korean Prisoner of War camp over half a century ago, leaving behind his wife Zokie and two-year-old daughter Melinda.
“I think she always looked for some answers before she died. She did not have closure other than knowing that my dad was never going to come back home,” said Crowley.
Smith’s daughter, Melinda Crowley said she never thought this day would come.
“Well you think about it but then again you move on because there aren’t a lot of answers.”
Smith’s grandson Scott Trahan said in the early 90’s the family had a glimpse of hope.
“The army notified us about 25 years ago that a dog tag was recovered and they were working through identifying the remains.”
And after many more years of waiting, Sgt. Smith finally returned home.
“It is just so overwhelming. It was difficult riding through Wednesday when so many people were there to welcome him home,” said Crowley.
With tears in her eyes, Crowley sat with her father for the last time.
“It’s a happiness of we now know, so all of that is very good,” said Crowley.
Smith was laid to rest in North Hanks Cemetery next to his beloved wife.
Sgt. Smith’s eight-year-old great-grandson accepted several medals and awards on Smith’s behalf. He was awarded thirteen medals including the Purple Heart Medal and Prisoner of War Medal .