RICHFIELD, Minn. (KMSP) - It was a service Elsie Ditslear had waited 68 years for - a chance to say a formal goodbye to her big buddy, older brother Eugene Yost.
“I’ll remember the rest of my life the soldier that came to our door and handed my father the telegram,” said Ditslear. “I was right beside him because I was also my dad’s buddy. He cried and I cried. It’s the only time I ever saw my Dad cry.”
Sergeant Eugene Yost was just 18 years old when he left his family’s Minnesota farm in Milaca, joined the Army and shipped out to fight in the Korean War.
He went missing in 1950. Without a body, the military officially declared him dead three years later.
His family was never certain of his fate - whether he was indeed killed by the North Koreans or perhaps held captive somewhere.
Sgt. Yost's niece, Gail Dalaska, made it her life’s mission to find out, tattooing his dog tags on her arm.
“He’s family,” said Dalaska. “No one gets left behind or forgotten. So not knowing what happened to him was a mystery. And I promised my grandma as a young girl that I would do my best to find out what happened to him.”
The family worked with the military, submitted their DNA and recently learned that there was a match. Turns out Sgt. Yost’s unidentified remains were recovered in 1953 and buried in an unknown soldier’s grave in Hawaii.
He finally came home Wednesday with water cannons and loved ones greeting his casket at the airport.
After Friday morning’s funeral services in which his family was posthumously awarded his medals, Yost was laid to rest at Fort Snelling with full military honors.
“A little of everything,” said Ditslear. “So happy they found him after 68 years. I just wish more family could be here. Glad he’s home. It’s sad because he’s dead, but he’s home.”