Award ceremony held for missing veteran of Korean War

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- While everyone's eyes were on the flags -- and knees -- at football stadiums Sunday, flags flew for Corporal Edward Comstock at Missouri's Korean Veteran Memorial in Kansas City.

The 19-year-old disappeared in Korea in 1951, and he still hasn't returned home.

It was a small ceremony -- less than a 100 people sat in folding chairs at Washington Park, next to Kansas City's Crown Center. But for the Comstock family, it was enough.

"I wanted my mom and my aunt to see what Kansas City has done to honor those missing in action," said Terry Stoneking.

Edward Comstock attended Westport High School, but he enlisted when he was 17 years old.

Stoneking, who never knew her uncle, said she always knew of him. She gestured to the framed picture of a serviceman on a table.  "This is the picture that hung in my grandmother's living room, for years," she said. "When you walked in, Edward was always a part of our lives.

Comstock was on his second tour in Korea when he disappeared in 1951. He was injured and sent home to recover in 1950; he volunteered to go back and returned to the war soon after Christmas.

On Sunday, a small part of him -- the awards he earned -- came home to Kansas City. Since he is officially still listed as Missing in Action, Sunday was not a memorial ceremony, but an awards ceremony.

"It melts my heart that - at least what we've done today," said Stoneking, "is just a little symbol of what Edward meant."

But it isn't all of Edward; he, and his remains, are still missing. The Comstock story is shared by thousands of military families.

"We should never forget that in order to defend this nation, there are those who serve, there are those who have given the ultimate sacrifice," said Col. Greg Penfield, who officiated the ceremony Sunday.

"Unfortunately," the colonel from Fort Leavenworth added, "there are those who are missing in action. So we should never forget that the cost of freedom is born by those who serve to defend the nation."