BAILEY, Colo. -- A decade of hard work helped bring a Colorado soldier back home. That's why our May 2018 Hero of the Month honors go to a local woman who never gave up in her quest to find her uncle.
Joann Mueller still cries when she thinks about it. The uncle she never even met. And his unlikely journey home from war. Just 20 years old, Floyd Jackson of Littleton was in the Army, fighting the Korean war, when he was taken prisoner December 12, 1950. He was held captive in a POW camps, where he died within two months.
"I guess it was a very cold winter, and he died of the elements," Mueller told FOX 31.
Nearly everyone in Joann's family has served in the military over the years. They're all heroes. Yet this hero was still missing - still out there somewhere, half a world away. And Joann's mother wanted this piece of the family puzzle solved.
"She loved him so much, and she always wanted him back home," Mueller said.
So Joann worked for more than a decade - alongside her daughter-in-law - doing research. Joann even gave DNA cheek swab samples. They left no stone unturned.
Then finally, one day, Joann got a phone call.
"My husband called and said, 'Honey, I think you need to go and sit down. They found your uncle Floyd's remains and they're bringing him home," Mueller recalled.
DNA had helped identify her long lost uncle, more than 60 years after he left home for war. His partial remains had been found scattered at several different locations throughout North Korea.
"We got it accomplished, and it meant so much to my mom," Mueller said.
FOX 31 was there on that day in 2015 when Army Corporal Floyd Jackson finally came home to Denver - greeted with a hero's welcome at Denver International Airport. First responders lined the procession route as the Colorado soldier was taken to his final resting place - buried right next to his mother at a cemetery in Centennial.
"I think it was just a miracle. I think it was meant to be. I think he was wanting to come home and never come home and somebody up there said, 'Yeah, we're going to find him.' And they did," Mueller said.
None of it would have ever happened without Joann's determination to solve a family mystery.
"She'd be proud of me, she would. My kids were all proud of me," Mueller said.
She may not have worn a uniform herself, but Joann is heroic to us for her hard work, bringing a hero home. That's why she's our FOX 31 Problem Solvers May 2018 Serving Those Who Serve Hero of the Month.
In addition to a plaque, Joann also gets a $250 Visa gift card from our sponsor, US Mortgages.
If you know a veteran, active duty service member, relative or military volunteer worthy of being named June's Hero of the Month, you can nominate them by clicking here.