Remains of Soldier Killed in Korea 65 Years Ago Finally Return Home to California Family

Graham Family (SAN FRANCISCO) --  The remains of a U.S. Army soldier have been returned to his family in the San Francisco Bay Area nearly 65 years after he went missing in South Korea during the Korean War.

After decades of not knowing what happened to him, Cpl. Robert Perry Graham's family is "finally finding peace," according to Nicole Venturelli, Graham's 51-year-old niece who knows him better as "Uncle Bobby."

Venturelli told ABC News Thursday that her father "was incredibly close" to Graham, and that ever since the military reported Graham as "missing in action" in 1951, "he'd always hoped Uncle Bobby would come home."

In 1953, the family learned Graham had been taken as a prisoner of war and likely died in a POW camp in South Korea in May of 1951, Venturelli said. He was only 21 at the time.

Despite finally learning what happened to Graham, the whereabouts of his remains stayed a mystery for decades, Venturelli said.

But in the early '90s, the family got their first lead.

From 1990 to 1994, North Korea exhumed and returned 208 boxes containing the commingled remains of servicemen from the war, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Venturelli said that three of her cousins sent in DNA samples in 1994 to test for a possible match with the remains. They only heard back last September, she said.

"A lot of people have criticized the military and are wondering what took so long, but we learned it's actually very difficult to extract the DNA from these commingled, degraded parts," Venturelli said. "Recent technology has allowed them to make strides on remains they weren't able to identify a decade ago, and of course, they want to be certain they've identified the remains correctly."

Venturelli said that her 59-year-old cousin, James George, actually went to the facility in Hawaii where unidentified servicemen's remains are stored and that "he was very impressed" with the dedication of the workers, as well as the new technology.

George escorted their uncle's remains from Hawaii back to San Francisco Wednesday evening, Venturelli said.

"It was a beautiful night," she said. "There were policemen, firemen and the military and they did the tradition thing when they cover the casket with the American flag and walked it past the family. It was a big welcome, very emotional and overwhelming for us."

Graham will be getting a proper funeral and burial with full military honors on Friday, Venturelli said. She added that he will be buried next to her dad, who unfortunately passed away before her uncle's remains were identified.

"It means quite a bit because my dad always wanted to find him and they can now be together in their final resting place," she said, adding that she liked to believe the two of them are now catching up on the time they missed here together in heaven.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Labrador retriever flunks out of bomb-sniffing school for not wanting to detect bombs

Labrador retriever flunks out of bomb-sniffing school for not wanting to detect bombsRuskpp/iStock/Thinkstock(MCLEAN, Va.) -- A Labrador retriever named Lulu has flunked out of bomb-sniffing school after she displayed to her handlers that she was no longer interested in detecting bombs, according to the CIA.

"We are sad to announce that Lulu has been dropped from the program," the CIA announced in a press release Wednesday.

Lulu did not make the cut to graduate with her fellow fall 2017 puppy classmates after she began to show signs that she wasn't interested in sniffing out explosive odors a few weeks into training.

We’re sad to announce that a few weeks into training, Lulu began to show signs that she wasn’t interested in detecting explosive odors. pic.twitter.com/c6lxHPfC09

— CIA (@CIA) October 18, 2017

There are a million reasons why a dog has a bad day & our trainers must become doggy psychologists to figure out what will help pups. pic.twitter.com/iaeRpGiSUR

— CIA (@CIA) October 18, 2017


Pups often have off days when they're training for such an important job, the CIA said. The issue -- which can often be fixed with more playtime and breaks -- is often temporary.

"After a few days, the trainers work the pup through whatever issue has arisen, and the dog is back eagerly and happily ready to continue training," the CIA said. "But for some dogs, like Lulu, it becomes clear that the issue isn’t temporary."

Lulu wasn’t interested in searching for explosives.
Even when motivated w food & play, she was clearly no longer enjoying herself. pic.twitter.com/puvhDk1tRX

— CIA (@CIA) October 18, 2017


Lulu was no longer motivated to search for explosives and was "clearly not enjoying herself any longer" when motivated to do so with food and play.

"It's imperative that the dogs enjoy the job they’re doing," the CIA said.

Trainers made the "extremely difficult decision" to drop Lulu from the program for her physical and mental well-being, the CIA said.

Lulu's handler adopted her, so she now enjoys cushy work-free days that include playing with his children and sniffing out rabbits and squirrels in the backyard. She even has a new friend -- a fellow Labrador retriever -- to hang out with all day.

Lulu was adopted by her handler & now enjoys her days playing w his kids & a new friend, & sniffing out rabbits & squirrels in the backyard. pic.twitter.com/WOImM75P1D

— CIA (@CIA) October 18, 2017


"We’ll miss Lulu, but this was the right decision for her," the CIA said. "We wish her all the best in her new life."

We’ll miss Lulu, but it was right decision for her & we wish her all the best in her new life!https://t.co/nPZl6YWNKb pic.twitter.com/Mbcr9C7wUY

— CIA (@CIA) October 18, 2017

Lulu's handler is still on the search for an explosive detection K-9 partner, the CIA said.

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