For many years after U.S. Army Cpl. Edward Comstock went missing in Korea, Sylvia Brown would see her brother in her dreams.
The same dream over and over.
“I’d be passing soldiers in the street,” she said Sunday at the Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial in Kansas City’s Washington Square Park. “I’d turn around and he’d turn around.”
The eyes she looked into in her dream were there at the park in photographs Sunday as family gathered with military officials and honor guards to finally receive the medals and citations Comstock earned before he went missing in action after a firefight in Korea 65 years ago.
Comstock’s mother always told how she would hear his whistle, said Terry Stoneking, Comstock’s niece.
Comstock, a joyful, comedic Westport High School graduate, loved to whistle, Stoneking said. His mother thought he might just show up with a tune in the air.
“She’d run from where she was hanging clothes,” and dash out to see if the child she always called “Sonny Boy” had miraculously returned.
At some point the whistle faded. And Brown’s dream left. But his family never stopped pushing to see Comstock remembered and honored, and to keep the still-unfulfilled mission alive to find his remains.
Sunday, the Army presented Brown and the rest of Comstock’s surviving family members with his medals — the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with the Bronze Service Star.
And they presented a 48-star American Flag — the flag that was current to the time of his disappearance — to his other sister, Gwinaver Stoneking, Terry Stoneking’s mother.
The flag was folded by Korean War veterans with the American Legion Post 189 and accompanied by a three-volley salute fired into the air.
The original flag presented to the family in honor of Comstock’s service was buried 10 years ago with Comstock’s mother, Dorothy Donaldson.
She was clutching it to her heart, Terry Stoneking said.
More than 900 service members from Missouri were among the 35,574 people killed in the Korean War. Comstock, whose presumptive death was declared by the Army in December 1953, is named with the other fallen Missourians on the Kansas City memorial.
Comstock enlisted when he was 17, his family said. He was wounded in the fall of 1950 and spent the Christmas season at home with shrapnel wounds in his back. But he couldn’t stay away from the war, Brown said.
The wounds were so bad he couldn’t sleep, she said, but he soon headed back.
“He wanted to do his duty,” she said. “He said, ‘I’m going to finish the job I started.’”
His unit came under heavy fire April 23, 1951 — a “bloody fight” during which Comstock became unaccounted for, the Army said.
The American Legion war veterans gave their salute, the Greater Kansas City American Legion Band serenaded the sun-filled gathering with military brass songs, the Leavenworth High School Army Junior ROTC presented the flags and the Patriot Guard motorcycle riders stood watch.
It’s been hard, now 65 years without Comstock coming home, Terry Stoneking said. But seeing so many people come out to honor him “melts my heart,” she said.
“I’m honored,” she told the crowd. “I want to thank everybody who has ever been in the service. You are all near and dear to my heart.”