FORT COVINGTON –– Close to 300 community residents, veterans and public officials lined East Main Street in Malone waving flags Wednesday afternoon to pay tribute to Master Sgt. Lawrence Oliver Jock, a fallen soldier from Fort Covington finally returning home after going missing during the Korean War in 1953.
But probably nobody felt the importance of the occasion more than Staff Sgt. Judson McCargar, a Marine from Westville who served in the war and was also fighting near the scene of Mr. Jock’s last stand.
“We were right up there with the Army. I knew they got hit, but of course, I didn’t know he was hit,” Mr. McCargar said.
Mr. Jock was 37 years old when he was lost in battle on July 14, 1953, after a Chinese attack in Kangwon Province, North Korea. A year later, he was declared dead.
His remains were among roughly 200 commingled remains returned to the U.S. by the North Korean government in the early 1990s. He was identified by DNA testing on June 25, the 61st anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
Mr. McCargar served in Korea from 1950 to 1954. He was in charge of a platoon of about 38 men.
“It was very hot and muggy in the summer, and very cold in the winter,” Mr. McCargar said, adding he saw plenty of action while serving but wasn’t 100 percent sure why he was there. “To me it was useless. Well, the Communists had to be stopped. But that’s the only war where we’ve still got the 38th parallel and that’s where we stopped fighting.”
He noted how sad it was that Mr. Jock died so close to end of the conflict, which was declared over on July 27, 1953.
“I think it’s a very good thing that they found him and they brought him back. And his niece was able to give DNA,” Mr. McCargar said. “I think it’s something every veteran deserves ... what he went through, we don’t know what he went through.”
The hearse carrying Mr. Jock’s remains from Albany was accompanied by state police, U.S. Border Patrol officers and Malone Village Police. A member of the military rode in the hearse. Active Fort Drum 10th Mountain Division soldiers were also in attendance, as were members of the American Legion and the AMVETS.
Many of those who lined the street were wearing red, white and blue and veterans were wearing caps identifying their branch of service.
Employees of Ellis Automotive at 551 E. Main St. chose to show their respect by placing flags on the antennas and turning on the lights of vehicles in their lot.
Calling hours for Mr. Jock will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Friday at the Spaulding Funeral Home, and a graveside service in St. John Bosco Cemetery will follow, with full military honors conducted by members of the U.S. Army. The Malone AMVETS and the Fort Covington American Legion will be in attendance, holding a brief prayer service at the funeral home.