It was a homecoming decades in the making. On Wednesday, 62 years after Roosevelt Clark was deployed to North Korea, his remains were returned to Bakersfield.
With a tearful family and a proud Patriot Guard on hand, the Korean War veteran was welcomed home.
On Friday, Clark will be buried on the Hill of Valor at Hillcrest Cemetery with full military honors.
"They kept telling us what was going to happen and hey there it is," said Rennie Hunter, Clark's first cousin.
The Delta plane arrived at LAX just before dawn carrying special cargo, Roosevelt Clark's family has been waiting for, for more than 60 years.
"I feel happy, but at the same time we've had a loss," said Hunter.
Draped in the American flag, a soldier unloaded the casket from the plane. Carried by an Honor Guard, veterans and law enforcement gave the Korean War veteran a salute.
The remains were placed before his cousins who took a moment to take it all in.
"Welcome home Roosevelt. Welcome home," said Hunter as she patted the casket on the tarmac.
"It's good to finally know he's coming home to rest in peace," said Sam Hunter, Rennie's husband.
"It was really touching that there was finally finality," said Fonda McNutt, Clark's first cousin.
Loaded onto the hearse, his family remembers the day the boy they called 'Jack' left.
"The one song he played all night long was 'Blues Stay Away from Me' which was his favorite song," said Rennie Hunter.
During Clark's junior year, he dropped out of Bakersfield High School to join the Army. At just 18, he was shipped overseas to North Korea. Nine months later, he was reported missing. Years passed with no word, but his mother Sarah waited.
"She spent her life taking care of us but was thinking of him," said Darin Maiden, Clark's great nephew who was raised by Clark's mom. "There was a photo that every night after she put us to sleep, she would talk to that photo."
Clark's parents eventually passed. His father in the 1990s and his mother in 2001. Then, a decade later, his family got a call.
"When they called us and told us his remains were found it was real," said Hunter.
But, Wednesday the remains came back to the family.
A Patriot Guard escorted Clark from Los Angeles to Frazier Park. Picking up more riders, they continued on to Bakersfield, 131 miles all the way to Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery where dozens of strangers showed their Patriot pride.
"This is why I love the United States because everyone cares, we care," said Hunter.
At Hillcrest, another Honor Guard removed the casket from the hearse.
"The family is blessed that he is back home where he should be and that's with his family," said Darin Maiden. "62 years is a long time to be missing."
Now he's no longer missing in action, finding a final resting place in the home he left so long ago.
"Life itself did not come home, but the remains itself came home," said Hunter.
The public is invited to Roosevelt Clark's funeral on Friday.
It takes place at 11 a.m. at the People's Missionary Baptist Church, 1451 Madison Street, just south of Casa Loma Drive.
After the service, Clark will be buried on the Hill of Valor at Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery.