Former Charlestonian Roseann Stonestreet has waited a lifetime for her daddy to come home.
As a child, she watched the way her mother's eyes would dart back and forth whenever they walked through a crowd. It was like she was always searching but never finding.
"He always told her that if he ever got captured, he had a plan for how he would get away and get back to us," Stonestreet, 78, said.
Sgt. 1st Class Finley James Davis kept his promise.
More than 60 years after the Army declared Davis as Missing in Action during the Korean War, the Department of Defense has identified his remains. On Thursday, Davis will be buried at North Charleston's Carolina Memorial Park not far from his wife Violet Davis' grave.
"It's kind of like a love story," said Zachary Boney, a soldier stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Davis's great-grandson.
"She never remarried, and she never dated. He was the only man she would ever be with because she didn't want to be with anyone else."
Boney, a horizontal construction engineer, on Sunday will travel to Hawaii to retrieve his great-grandfather’s remains. The 22-year-old will then fly from Hawaii to Charleston, escorting Davis across the country to deliver him safely to his family.
"I feel honored to do it," Boney said.
Davis, who was posthumously promoted to master sergeant, was also an Army engineer.
He was serving in the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Division in late 1950 when his unit was attacked during the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River.
The battle began Nov. 25, 1950 when the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces initiated an offensive along the Eighth Army front. All Eighth Army units were ordered to withdraw Nov. 29 but Davis' battalion was assigned to provide security for the division.
His unit was attacked again. That's when the Pentagon believes Davis was captured. He was reported missing in action as of Dec. 1, 1950.
Several American prisoners of war would later report that Davis had died in Camp 5, a prisoner of war camp.
Stonestreet did not learn this until Aug. 11, 2017 when she received the phone call she never thought would come.
"I have some good news," the voice on the other end of the line said. "We have your father's remains."
"Is this some kind of terrible joke?" Stonestreet said, contemplating hanging up the phone. "What kind of sick —"
"No ma'am," he interjected. "This is not a joke. This is the United States Army."
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said a set of remains that had been marked X-14024 were processed for identification in 1954 but an association could not be made and they were returned to the United States for burial.
The remains of these "Unknowns" would be sent to Honolulu for burial with full military honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
The DPPA would later request the exhumation of 22 unresolved individuals, including Davis. Analyzing DNA from the Davis family, and comparing dental and chest records, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System identified Davis.
Unknown X-14024 would be unknown no more.
For so long, Stonestreet said, she had lived in a world where her father was perpetually missing.
When she wanted to talk to him, a photograph of him smiling in his military uniform served as a stand-in.
She told that framed portrait when she got into nursing school, all five times she had a baby and, now, she said she still tells the framed photograph about what is going on in her life.
"It's still hard to fathom that he's coming home," Stonestreet said.
Stonestreet, who now lives in Las Vegas, and her five daughters will be his pallbearers. The funeral is here because Violet Davis moved here later in her life and is buried at Carolina Memorial Park. Davis will receive a Purple Heart.
One of her daughters, Robin Sorensen, wrote a poem that will be read at the funeral. Stonestreet choked back tears as she recited a phrase from it.
"Now some 60 years have passed,
and we have come to find
our beloved soldier is coming home.
You were not left behind."