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Korean War soldier’s body returns to US soil 67 years after he went MIA

A fallen soldier from the Korean War passes the colors one last time in South Korea during a repatriation ceremony at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, Thursday, June 22, 2017.

MARCUS FICHTL/STARS AND STRIPES

By MARCUS FICHTL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 22, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — A U.S. soldier’s body is heading home 67 years after he went missing in action during the Korean War.

The U.S. accepted the remains of the 1st Cavalry Division soldier Thursday during a repatriation ceremony hosted by the South Korean military and United Nations Command at Yongsan Garrison. UN colors draped his casket, which stood alone on the ceremonial field.

The soldier is thought to have died in late July 1950 when U.S. forces, including elements of the 1st Cavalry Division, delayed the North Korean army’s advance along the peninsula and bought time for the U.N. to establish a line of defense around the southern city of Busan.

“We are very, very happy this case has reached a successful resolution,” Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory director John Byrd said after the ceremony.

The dead soldier’s family has been notified, South Koreans officials said. However, Byrd said the remains won’t be officially identified until they’ve been analyzed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

“The soldier will be brought to Hawaii [Thursday],” he said. “He will undergo final analysis in our laboratory, and he will be identified shortly thereafter and returned home to his family.”

Relatives will decide where they want the soldier to be buried, Byrd said.

The remains were found March 30 near Daejeon, 90 miles south of Seoul, by a telecom worker installing cables under a road, said South Korea’s Ministry of Defense Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification.

South Korean officials said they would search for more remains of missing personnel in the area.

This was the first repatriation this year and the 10th in the decade since the U.S. and South Korean recovery agencies started cooperating, a South Korean official said.

There are still 7,745 U.S. servicemembers unaccounted for from the Korean War, with most of the dead thought to be in North Korea, DPAA’s website says.

fichtl.marcus@stripes.com
Twitter: @marcusfichtl

The U.S. and South Korean flags fly during a repatriation ceremony at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, Thursday, June 22, 2017.
MARCUS FICHTL/STARS AND STRIPES

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