Glen Brown, Brazil, said he never knew his uncle, Virgil Phillips. His aunt, Lila Faye Brown, never talked much about her husband, but did say Phillips was the love of her life and the military notice that he was dead or missing in action was too much for her to bear.
"She fell head over heals for him," he said. "She cared about him so much."
Brown said his family, along with the Phillips family, has been through so much.
Lila Faye's father died in the 40s, leaving his widow with 14 children. Because times were so tough, Lila Faye's mother could not take care of all the children. Brown said some of the younger siblings were put up for adoption. The older siblings stayed with their mother and some of the older siblings, not living with their mother, took in some of the younger siblings. Brown said Lila Faye had a rough life and was troubled.
He said he is not sure how his aunt met Phillips, but the two were married June 10, 1950, in Loogootee, where Phillips was from. Lila Faye was living in Crawfordsville. Phillips signed up for the Army July 24, 1950. He was a part of the Company K of the 8th Calvary Regiment. On Sept. 3, 1950, Phillips and his regiment were shipped to Korea. While he was there, Brown said his aunt stayed with family in Brazil.
Phillip's regiment was in North Korea in the Unsan County. On Nov. 2, 1950, they fell under attack by Communist Chinese forces and were overrun. Brown said his aunt remembered Phillips was there for less than two months when she received a notice that he was dead or MIA.
He said she returned to Crawfordsville and never re-married.
"She said her relationship with Virgil was wonderful," he said. "Lila Faye used to say she would never re-marry and she didn't. She didn't want to go through it again. It is so tragic."
Sadly, Brown 's aunt was killed in an automobile accident in 1996 and never knew Phillips was found. In 2005, remains were uncovered in Unsan County, North Korea. Brown said the remains were sent for identification. It was then the Brown family found out about the Phillips family and a previous marriage.
"We had no idea Virgil was married before and had a son," Brown said. "His family in Loogootee is great. It is so sad that his son died never knowing his dad, or that he was found."
Brown said identifying Phillips was an obstacle because his son, Jerry, was not available for DNA, because he died in 1997, so a few relatives provided a sample. Phillip's cousin was a positive match and the family was notified.
Brown said it is a tragic situation for both families. He said it is great to finally bring both families closure and answer questions. After 57 years, Phillips will be returned to Loogootee and the funeral will be Friday, April 18.