88-year-old Orange resident Irona Mazzola will soon get to attend the funeral of her youngest brother who died more than 60 years ago.
Clement Thibodeaux Jr., an army sergeant from Louisiana who served in the Korean War, was taken prisoner in 1950. He died from starvation and pneumonia while being held captive. He was just 18-years-old.
His family was eventually informed of his death, but his body remained missing. Mazzola's hope of her brother ever returning home dwindled as decade after decade went by.
"We never ever thought of having him come back," Mazzola told 12News Thursday.
Then in 2005, a joint U.S.-Democratic People's Republic of Korea team excavated a site in North Korea, found several remains and sent them back to the U.S. for identification.
Years later, some of those remains were confirmed to be those of Thibodeaux's, matched with DNA supplied by his brother Wilson.
"I was happy," said Mazzola. "Naturally we would have liked to have his whole body, but the remains were all we got, but we're thankful for that."
Thibodeaux's remains were flown into New Orleans on July 25.
His funeral will be held Saturday, September 7 at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Church Point, Louisiana. The family says all are welcome to attend.
"We'll be able to think of him with honor and pride," said Mazzola. "I always did anyway, but it'll be more profound."
Mazzola is one of two surviving siblings of Thibodeaux's. Her older brother Raynold, 92, lives in Nederland.