Despite all the controversy reported regarding Arlington National Cemetery recently, the fact remains that it is where America’s fallen heroes are laid to rest. Last Monday, a fallen hero was once again accorded that honor – sixty years after his death, as shared in a feature on the Navy Times.
Ensign Robert Langwell, from Columbus, Indiana, served aboard the minesweeper Magpie. On October 1, 1950, months after the start of the Korean War, the ship hit a mine off the coast of South Korea and exploded. While twelve of its crew survived, 26-year old Langwell was one of those who were declared lost at sea.
Days after the tragedy, however, Langwell’s body got caught in a fisherman’s net. His remains were pulled from the sea, and the locals buried him temporarily in a shallow grave in Chuksan-ri, South Korea. This grave, however, proved to be exactly what it was – a temporary resting place – although Langwell remained buried there for decades.
Information from the fisherman triggered a search for Langwell’s body, initiated by South Korean officials, a couple of years ago. Langwell’s skeletal remains as well as an old ID card were discovered in April, 2009.
Navy officials conducted a genealogy search and found Brenda Showalter of Columbus, Langwell’s second cousin. At first, Showalter and her sister were skeptical, but the sisters’ submission of DNA swab kits confirmed Langwell’s identity.
Ensign Robert Langwell was buried with full military honors, and in attendance during the service were nine of his relatives, some of whom have never met each other before the service. Showalter shared: “I have cousins not very far away that I’m just now finding out about. Even in his death, he’s doing some nice things for our family.”