Welcome Home, Corporal Alva Clifford Groves



On Tuesday, 05 August 2014, I was honored to be a part of escorting Corporal Alva Clifford Groves home to West Virginia. Cpl Groves died in captivity as a POW during the Korean War in April 1951. His remains were turned over by the North Koreans and were positively identified through DNA testing. The Patriot Guard graciously allowed me to ride with their group to provide escort service for the procession, starting at the Pittsburgh Airport and ending at the funeral home in Shinnston WV.

Cpl Alva Clifford Groves 1932-1951
US Army
Died in captivity - North Korea


From WBOY news (Clarksburg WV)

VIDEO LINK FROM LOCAL NEWS (May take a minute to load)

After more than 60 years, a Korean War soldier who died as a prisoner of war, has come home to Marion County. Alva Clifford Groves enlisted in the Army when he was just 17 years old. It would be the last time he would ever be in Marion County, that is until Tuesday.

It was a hero's welcome in Fairmont as a procession carrying the remains of Corporal Alva Clifford Groves drove across the Gateway Connector from Pittsburgh. For Groves' sister, Lillian Anderson, the journey home brought back a flood of emotions.

"He wasn't quiet. He wasn't the quiet type. He didn't go in for sports, but he was active. He enjoyed doing things, anything to keep himself active, and he was good-hearted," said Anderson.

Anderson remembers it like it was yesterday: the day her big brother begged their parents to let him enlist in the United States Army. "They weren't really happy about it. They thought he was too young, but my mother was willing to do it because he wanted it so badly. So he was 17 in May, and he went in September, or that fall sometime," said Anderson.

Then a few short months later - the news that no family ever wants to hear. Groves had gone missing in action after his unit was attacked in North Korea.

"You just live in hopes that everything will turn out okay," said Anderson, "but that's when we got the notice that he had died in a prison camp. The body hadn't been returned or anything, but you're just left in limbo, don't know what to expect."

Years passed, then a breakthrough: positive identification of Groves' remains from DNA the family had provided eight years ago.

"It's been 63 years. It was all unreal, and we never imagined the remains would ever be returned."

With bittersweet raw emotion, then came a hero's welcome home that was long overdue. Anderson says she's eternally grateful for those who lined the streets, as the procession continued from the Gateway Connector down Route 19.

"It was amazing, that people were standing on the street that didn't even know him, but they still wanted to show their respect for him," said Anderson.

"I'm so thankful that our service department didn't just say, 'He's gone' and forget about it. They were willing to go through all of this for any of them that died or were killed in service. So it's good to know people might still have some relatives," said Anderson.

Corporal Groves will be buried Thursday at the National Cemetery in Taylor County with full military honors.


From KDKA (Pittsburgh PA)

VIDEO NEWS LINK FROM KDKA (May take a minute to load)

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Homecoming became a reality today for Army Cpl. Alva Clifford Groves of Shinnston, West Virginia.

His remains arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport late Tuesday morning.
His body was met by his sole surviving sister, several other relatives and members of the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle club.

They escorted the body back to his hometown where funeral services will be held this Thursday.

Groves joined the Army in 1950 after quitting school.
At first, he was reported MIA. It wasn’t until after the war that his family learned that he died while in captivity.
His sister, Lillian Anderson, says it’s been difficult, but she’s glad her brother has made it back home.

“It has been difficult when I think of greeting an 18-year-old when he should be 82. It’s just hard,” said Anderson.
She added, “There were times when I never thought he’d never return.”
Sandra Buswink, Groves’ niece, provided the military with a DNA sample eight years ago, which led to the positive identification of his remains. A second DNA sample came from his sister.

“I walked next door to visit Aunt Lil and ask her if she would be available to give blood, and she said yes, and I contacted the department of the Army and they came out and took our blood,” said Buswink.

Both Buswink and Anderson were at the airport Tuesday when Groves’ body arrived.

Asked if she remembered her uncle, Buswink said, “I was only 6-months-old when my uncle joined the Army. I feel close to him now.”



Tuesday - 05 August 2014


Escort from Pittsburgh PA Airport to Shinnston WV


Members of the West Virginia Patriot Guard and Pennsylvania Patriot Guard, as well as other individuals, met near

 the Pittsburgh Airport for a briefing and general information before the escort began.

We then proceeded to the starting point at the exit of the airport.

The hearse and family stopped here to thank everyone for their support. Very nice family.

KDKA (the big Pittsburgh TV station) was on hand to document the events of the day.

With police escort, we proceeded out of the airport and onto I-79 for the trip to West Virginia. Surprisingly, since we were only going about 50-55mph (well below the limit), almost nobody passed by us. Hopefully it was out of respect, maybe it was all the police escorts with their lights flashing. Anyhow, this is the group as they approached the WV border southbound on I-79. The hearse and large black van with family members is visible in the middle of the motorcycle escort.

Welcome home to West Virginia, Corporal Groves! Wish it could have been in a ticker-tape parade

 63 years ago with you sitting proudly up in the back of a convertible.

At the Fairmont WV exit, emergency crews and first responders were ready to pay their respects to Cpl Groves.

As we waited for the procession at Fairmont to begin,

I snapped a photo of my trusty Burgman 650 all cleaned up for parade duty.

Another view of the welcome at Fairmont. Very nice turnout of first responders and citizens to honor Cpl Groves.

As was the case with escorting Sgt Jerome Kiger home (WWII airman who's remains were recently discovered and identified at a crash site in Germany) last year, it was hard not to shed tears of happiness as we did our small part in welcoming home these veterans of days gone by. May the memory of their actions and sacrifices never be forgotten.





Thursday - 07 August 2014


Cpl Alva Groves laid to rest in National Cemetery, Pruntytown WV


(I was not able to attend - this is the local news report)



It's been a long journey home for Corporal Alva Clifford Groves, the Korean War POW whose remains were brought back to his home in Marion County last Tuesday, but on Thursday, Groves was taken to his final resting place.

"Those guys were our heroes, the guys coming up now. They're our heroes, they're what we wanted to be like. That's why we became soldiers," said SFC Clint Bolyard of the West Virginia National Guard.

It was the final leg of Corporal Alva Clifford Groves' long journey home, 63 years in the making, as the procession with his remains arrived at the National Cemetery.

"We're bringing our brothers home. I mean, really bringing them home," said veteran Butch Mundell.

"Back here in our hills of West Virginia in a place where all of us will end up one of these days," said veteran Bob Carr.

Among those in attendance was Tom Mathews, who also served in the Korean War. Mathews was a prison of war during World War II in Germany for seven-and-a-half months.

"He has the right to the respect, as a POW, that the rest of us that we get when we are laid to rest. I think he deserves it. It's just so sad it has to be this late," said Mathews.

Groves was given full military honors, as the National Guard presented his family with a flag. It was an overwhelming show of support for a true American hero who never had the chance to come back home and live his life.


Back to RidingWV HomePage