GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - After almost 45 years, a Vietnam War veteran came home to rest.
Army Sergeant Bunyan Durant Price Jr. was declared "Missing In Action" in Cambodia in 1970, and remained that way since. His body was returned to his family in Gastonia Thursday.
It was a day of mixed emotions for relatives. Price's nephew told WBTV the family is feeling happiness and sadness. They're also relieved that the soldier will finally get a proper burial.
"Today was really sad," said Sgt. Price's sister, Brenda Harris, "But it brought closure for me."
Sgt. Price's two other sisters agreed. "There were times I thought he was alive, but there were also times I thought he was dead," said Arvonia England.
"He was our hero," said Wanda Hanley.
The fallen veteran's nephew, Harley Walker Jr. said, "My uncle was a real good person. He was caring, and he would do anything for you."
On May 2, 1970, an Army helicopter was shot down near Cambodia with eight soldiers on board. Although the plane landed safely, the passengers were ambushed by the enemy. Of the eight, one escaped, three died on scene, and four were taken captive and put in prison.
Of the four taken prisoner, only one survived.
Sgt. Price was one of the three who died on the scene and has been declared MIA since that May day. He was only 20 years old.
His body was recently found about a mile from the crash site.
"I always thought he was coming back," said Sgt. Price's brother, Dennis Price, "Until February 9 this year, when they told us it was a 100% DNA match."
Relatives of the American hero say the Belmont native was a great guy who loved to play pranks on friends. They described him as mischievous and a good person.
Sgt. Price has been awarded the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, among many other awards for his service.
The soldier that survived imprisonment joined the family and well wishers at the Charlotte airport to welcome his comrade back home.