Vice President Mike Pence oversaw the return on Wednesday of what are believed to be the remains of 55 servicemen who died during the Korean War.
The boxes finally touched down in Honolulu at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam about 8 p.m. with the VP overseeing the ceremony.
"My father was a combat veteran in Korea. And as I said to them, my father, anytime the war came up and anyone used the word ‘hero,’ my dad would say, the heroes were the ones that didn’t come home," Pence said.
"So, to be able to be with them and the sacrifice their families have made to defend our freedom, to defend the freedom of South Korea, just very humbled. Very meaningful."
Pallbearers from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps unloaded the C-17 transport plane after it touched down.
It’s expected to be a long process to sort out the remains of the fallen soldiers. Only one dog tag came back with the remains, which are not guaranteed to be the servicemen.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week that the return of the 55 boxes was a positive step but not a guarantee that the bones are American.
Soldiers from South Korea, Australia, Belgium, France and the Philippines fought in the Korean War, which ended in 1953.
"We don't know who's in those boxes," he said. He noted that some could turn out to be those of missing from other nations that fought in the Korean War. "They could go to Australia," he said. "They have missing, France has missing, Americans have. There's a whole lot of us. So, this is an international effort to bring closure for those families."
The Pentagon estimates that there 7,700 U.S. MIAs from the Korean War, 5300 have yet to be accounted for.
President Trump brokered the return of the fallen soldiers during his meeting with Kim Jung Un in Singapore.