Korean War medic’s remains return home after 72 years

He was listed as missing in action in the Chosin Reservoir conflict in North Korea in December 1950.

SAN ANTONIO – A New Braunfels family is reunited with a loved one after decades of him being reported as missing in action.

Thanks to a DNA analysis, the Lopez Sanchez family welcomed home the remains of Sgt. Gilberto Sanchez after 72 years.

Sanchez was a 19-year-old medic with the U.S. Army. He served in the Medical Company, 32nd Infantry Division.

He was listed as missing in action in the Chosin Reservoir conflict in North Korea in December 1950.

More of his remains have been found and properly identified

“I was shocked and excited,” Richard Anthony Sanchez said. “(I was) excited that he was here and shocked that they were able to find him.”

It was in 2015 when the family first received notice that Gilberto’s remains had been located and matched with DNA samples his surviving brothers had provided in 2003.

A bittersweet homecoming then and a bittersweet homecoming today as they met once again at the San Antonio International Airport to receive more of Gilberto’s remains.

“Well, we hoped for it, we did, we hoped for it,” Eva Lopez said. “My father said, ‘if he comes back, it’ll complete the family.’”

Gilberto’s homecoming, decades later, stirred up emotions all over again for Silvestre Sanchez, the only brother alive today.

Silvestre says he still remembers the last time he saw his brother.

“He was going to San Francisco at the time, and when the bus came by, it stopped, he got on, he turned around and looked at us...and then he left. Yeah, that was the last time,” said Silvestre Sanchez, brother.

And as all the memories rushed back all at once, Silvestre thought of his mother, who he says didn’t want Sanchez to enlist in the Army.

“She worried about all of my brothers,” Silvestre said. “She missed him. She didn’t want him to join.”

On Wednesday, Aug. 16, family members and friends will gather for a service at Holy Family Catholic Church in New Braunfels at 9:45 a.m.

“Everybody’s been waiting; we’ve been waiting for this moment,” Lopez said.

About the Authors:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.