Cpl. Terrell J. Fuller went missing in Korea in 1951. Two years later, the U.S. Army presumed him dead.
On Thursday, his remains come home and on Saturday, what would have been his 88th birthday, he’ll be buried in his native Tocca.
“It’s closure to the family,” said his great-niece, Amy Hix. “It’s just a wonderful homecoming to have him come home and be buried on American soil.”
Fuller’s remains arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 7:15 a.m. Thursday and there will be a private honor-guard ceremony in a hangar. After that, the procession will travel north via Interstates 85 and 985, then Hwy. 123 into town, taking Broad, Doyle and Pond streets on the way to Acree-Davis Funeral Home.
Hix’ son, Will Grafton, currently serving in the U.S. Army and stationed at Fort Stewart, will escort his great, great-uncle’s remains.
“Pretty much the entire town of Toccoa will line the streets and welcome him home,” Hix said.
The procession is expected to arrive in the north Georgia town between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Area Scout troops, veterans groups and other organizations are expected to assemble in downtown Toccoa and along the 985 overpasses along the procession route.
The public visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home, and the Saturday burial service will be private.
Rev. Jerrell Beatty will officiate on Saturday.
“It’s just an honor,” he said. “I appreciate anyone who serves this great country we live in. Freedom is not free. Somebody had to pay the price, and one of those were Cpl. Fuller.”
We’re working to find out more about Fuller, who was about 20 when he entered the service. The Atlanta Constitution’s war coverage at the time noted him a few times.
“Pfc. Fuller is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Fuller,” an article from Sept. 30, 1953 reads. “His mother said last night he was captured in February 1951 and that she was notified in March of that year that he was officially missing in action. Pfc. Fuller attended school in Toccoa. His father is a farmer. Besides the parents, there are a brother, Cosby, and two sisters, Ruby and Myrtle Lou Fuller. The soldier entered the service in August 1951. He is 23 years old and unmarried.”
Hix said there are no living relatives in Toccoa, and isn’t sure who might have known him. Fuller was her mother’s uncle, but she never knew him and remembers his name being mentioned rarely, and in hushed tones, when she was growing up.
Fuller’s remains were recovered years ago, but only recently identified with DNA testing.
“It’s amazing. When I got the phone call from my mother stating all of this I was just like, what?” Hix said. “For 67 years of no answers and then all of a sudden his remains are in Hawaii.”
And soon, they’ll be home.