EL MONTE (CBSLA) — When the remains of Army Cpl. Mac Ortiz were returned to the United States, his family welcomed him home, including siblings he never got to meet.
“My dad, what he was told is that he took a direct hit on the tank, artillery tank, and they didn’t find any remains at all,” Manuel Ortiz said. “We felt our father’s hurt.”READ MORE: List Of Juneteenth Events Happening Across LA County
Ortiz was born a few years after his 19-year-old brother was declared missing in action during the Korean War in 1950. Ortiz and his siblings grew up listening to stories about their brother from their father, a World War II veteran.
In 2017, they decided to provide their DNA to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in hopes that the organization would one day be able to identify their brother’s remains.
“And then we got notified that, through that summit that President [Donald] Trump and Kim [Jong-un] had in July 2018, they did find the remains and they did identify them as my brother’s,” Ortiz said.READ MORE: GoFundMe Set Up For Tomas Mejia, Security Guard Fatally Stabbed At Park La Brea Apartments
And, after almost 70 years, the remains of Cpl. Ortiz were returned to his grateful family in late 2019.
“Our brother’s remains did come in on one of the caskets, number 27 out of the 55 that came in,” Ortiz said. “Very proud, proud.”
Cpl. Ortiz was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, among several other medals, and was buried with honors at Riverside National Cemetery.
In honor of Cpl. Ortiz’s service, a new affordable housing community is being built in El Monte. It will be named Plaza Ortiz and will provide housing to low-income families and homeless veterans.MORE NEWS: United Teachers LA Vote In Favor Of Agreement With LAUSD For Physical Return To 2021-2022 School Year
“They are going to have his plaques and his bio at the entrance of Plaza Ortiz,” Ortiz said. “It’s got a little courtyard in the middle, and it’s going to be really good to see once they complete it. Just take a lot of pride to say he was and is my brother.”