The Village of Anacoco officially named a portion of Highway 171 this morning in honor of a local soldier whose remains were brought home last year after spending more than five decades missing in Korea.

Maj. Gen. Gary Brito, Commanding General, JRTC and Fort Polk gave the dedication speech and participated in unveiling the highway sign this morning. He said in an interview with the Leesville Daily Leader that he was honored to participate.

“Love has no timeline,” he said. “We have to take the time to pay respects to soldiers. It’s important to find soldiers and give closure to their families.”

Brito noted that Vernon Parish is extremely supportive of the military.

The arrival home of Martin's remains caused the communities of Vernon and Beauregard Parish, along with Fort Polk, to demonstrate solidarity. “It was overwhelming,” said Martin's nephew, Ronnie Martin.

The experience of bringing his uncle home to a resting place, provided closure for the family, and now dedicating the highway to him, has all been life-changing, Ronnie said.

In particular he is more aware and appreciative of what service members do, day in, day out, in order to protect the United States.

Directly after the ceremony, DOTD workers installed the Sergeant James Edward Martin Highway sign.

Martin was born on May 23, 1931 in Anacoco to Felton Glen and Meldredge Peace Martin. He graduated from Anacoco High School in 1949 and quickly enlisted in the United States Army.

Martin was killed during the Korean War while serving with the 31st Infantry Regiment in the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea.

His regiment was attacked by Chinese forces on the night of Nov. 27, 1950.

After the attacks ceased, Martin could not be accounted for. He was considered missing in action on Dec. 3, 1950.

It was not until 2001 that Martin's remains were finally found, however they were not positively identified until April 2016.

In a joint effort between the U.S. and Korean People’s Army, a team recovered possible human remains.

Martin’s remains were identified by scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.

They used circumstantial and anthropological evidence, including dental and chest radiograph comparison, as well as DNA analysis, including mitochondrial DNA, which matched two of his sisters.

66 years later, Martin has been returned home and given his long overdue respects and memorial.