Family seeks to preserve the legacy of new identified South Georgian killed during Korean War

Despite his life ending tragically, family members say this story ending is the most beautiful.
Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 8:15 PM EDT
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HOMERVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - A Georgia man, who died as a prisoner of war during the Korean War, has now been identified as U.S. Army Corporal Dewey E. Rewis Jr. His remains have made it back to Georgia some 70 years later.

WALB sat down with the family of Rewis as they share his story and honor the memory of the fallen soldier.

On December 2nd, 1950, the Rewis family’s life would change as they know it. Dewey Rewis of Waycross was serving in the Korean War when his unit was advancing along the Eastern Banks of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. His unit came under attack. It was then that he was reported missing and died as a prisoner of war.

U.S. Army Cpl. Dewey E. Rewis, Jr. remains were identified through DNA testing over 70 years...
U.S. Army Cpl. Dewey E. Rewis, Jr. remains were identified through DNA testing over 70 years later.(SOURCE: WALB)

“She died in ‘93, aunt Ruby, uncle Dewey died, the daddy died in 1987. They did have some information back in the 50s about some POWs who was in the camp with Dewey Edwards, and that he had died in that prison camp. But they never had any closure until this recent finding,” says Dewey’s cousin Austin Deloach.

According to Deloach, the parents of Dewey grieved tremendously over the years, but one thing he noticed, was that they grieved silently.

“They grieved every day of their lives, but they never talked about it. I never brought it up, but I feel like one thing that’s evident to me is the fact that they never ever ever talked about it,” Deloach said.

But bringing Dewey home took years as his name never appeared on any of the transfer rosters from Japan, and his remains were determined to be non-recoverable. But all that changed in 1993 when North Korea turned over 33 boxes of remains to the United Nations Command.

“They reached out to three different family members. My dad being one of them. One of them being another- his name was Jimmy, both of them being paternal DNA samples. They also reached out to a cousin who is on the paternal side. So, between these three markers, they were able to put together a DNA s ample block that identified him as who he was.” Dewey’s cousin Joe Rewis said.

Dewey’s family is now using this as an educational opportunity for the next generation.

The family says they are donating his personal items to the Echols County Historical Society as a way for the next generation to always remember the Korean War.

“So many of Echols County residents, the young men, served during World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and even the Gulf Wars, and this is really the first time that we’ve been contacted to honor a soldier that has given his life for our country,” William Roberts, president of the Echols County Historic Society, said.

Rewis’ items will be given to the historic society after the public funeral on August 12. Roberts says they are honored to be a part of keeping the Korean War history alive in Echols County.

“I feel like, especially when one of our residents was lost in a prisoner of war camp and their remains never made it back, it gives the county and the extended family a chance to honor and find peace in the fact that he has been returned home where he was born and raised,” Roberts said.

But despite Rewis’ life ending tragically, family members say this story ending is the most beautiful.

“It’s never too late to find out about it, and so I would just say it gives people hope that might have loved ones who don’t know what happened to them,” Deloach said.

“I’m only coordinating here, I am not the story. Dewey is the story,” Joe Rewis said.

The funeral with full military honors is open to the public on Saturday, August 12 at 9 a.m. starting at Roundtree Funeral Home in Homerville, and ending with his burial in Echols County.