The remains of a U.S. soldier killed during the Korean War are set to be repatriated from South Korea more than 67 years after their death, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on Thursday.
The U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and the ROK Ministry of National Defense Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification (MAKRI) wrapped up the identification process on Wednesday and Thursday.
The remains were initially confirmed as being of a U.S. soldier in September after being recovered in October last year in Cheong-ri, Gangwon Province near the inter-Korean border.
The DPAA and MAKRI then conducted a forensic anthropological analysis to determine the gender, age, cause of death, and ethnicity of the soldier, based on battle records during the Korean War and circumstances of excavation.
Seoul said the remains were confirmed as belonging to a soldier in the 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army following a detailed identification and DNA test.
In a statement, the ROK MND said the as-yet-unnamed U.S. soldier is presumed to have died between April 1 and 23 1951, during the United Nations forces’ second counteroffensive operations.
“As the result of the ROK-U.S. joint identification, the remains have been identified as a U.S. soldier,” the South Korean military said, adding DPAA Chief Scientist Dr. John E. Byrd had also participated in the process.
South Korea has since 2000 handed over 18 remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War.
The remains will be transferred to the Eighth U.S. Army, with a repatriation ceremony scheduled to be held on November 20.
September saw three professional personnel from the ROK MAKRI visit the DPAA in Hawaii to identify the remains of 64 South Korean war dead previously recovered by Washington and Pyongyang.
The 64 sets of remains include some transferred by North Korea between 1990 and 1994, as well as those recovered during U.S.-DPRK joint recovery operations between 1996 and 2005 – the largest transfer of remains between the two countries since the Korean War ended.
Pyongyang also returned 55 boxes of remains of U.S. war dead in July, as part of measures to implement the DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement signed by the two countries’ leaders in Singapore the previous month.
Among them, U.S. DPAA laboratory and forensic scientists have identified the remains of two soldiers, Army Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel and Army Pfc. William H. Jones, both killed in action during the Korean War.
A total of 465 remains of U.S. Korean War dead have been identified as of August, with 7691, including around 5300 in the DPRK, remaining unaccounted for, according to statistics provided by the DPAA.
The DPAA estimates that approximately 1000 U.S. soldiers’ remains are buried in the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
The South Korean military last month recovered two sets of remains presumed to be from the ROK armed forces near Hill 281/Arrowhead Ridge in Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province in the DMZ.
Seoul said the discovery was the first to take place in the DMZ.
The two remains were recovered during mine sweeping operations intended to facilitate a planned pilot Inter-Korean Joint Operation to Recover Remains project, scheduled to take place between April 1 and October 31 next year.
Meanwhile, ongoing mine sweeping operations in area unearthed their third and fourth remains in the past week, the South Korean military announced on Tuesday.
MAKRI said that mine clearance had unearthed the fibula bone of the third set of remains on October 28, while a tibia bone was discovered on Monday during road construction.
The MAKRI said it believed that the two sets of remains were from soldiers killed in action at Arrowhead Ridge, and will proceed with precise identification and DNA analysis to verify their identity.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND)
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