Missing WWII solider finally given funeral in hometown
PORT CLINTON, Oh (WNWO) —
A perfectly folded flag was placed into the arms of Technical 4th Grade John Kovach Jr.'s sister's hand, more than 75 years after he died.
The missing Ohio National Guard Solider was killed in November of 1942 in the Philippines during WWII.
He had enlisted at just 17-years-old in August of 1940 and trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
He participated in the battles of Luzon and Bataan before being captured.
Kovach was among the nearly 75,000 American and Filipino troops that were forced to make the 65-mile march known as the Bataan Death March where thousands died due to poor conditions.
He was buried in a camp cemetery until after the war when his remains were moved to a mass grave where he stayed until 2014 when the U.S. Army exhumed the remains for DNA testing.
Family members we're originally going to let Kovach remain with those he died with in the Philippines, but when he was able to be positively identified, they decided it was time to bring him home.
"My mother and aunt's wish to go some place and actually see his sight to where they can pay tribute to," said Toby Gross, nephew of John Kovach Jr.
Now, with Kovach home, they can heal.
"We have complete closure now," said Gross.
Hundreds of people came out to honor Kovach who was from Port Clinton, Ohio.
"It was just beautiful to see all the streets lined up all the participation and remembering a solider that had fallen," said Gross.