South Korea returns remains of US service member lost in Korean War
Stars and Stripes February 22, 2023
SEOUL, South Korea — The remains of a U.S. service member killed during the Korean War will soon be on their way to the United States following a dignified transfer ceremony at Seoul National Cemetery on Wednesday.
Draped in the United Nations’ blue-and-white flag, the casket was transferred by the Ministry of National Defense Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification to the U.S. Eighth Army Mortuary Affairs.
The remains were discovered in April 2021 in Gangwon province, where some of the “most fierce” fighting of the 1950-53 Korean War occurred, according to a news release from the South Korean agency.
A joint forensic analysis in October with the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting determined the remains likely belonged to a U.S. service member.
“We send our deepest gratitude to the fallen U.S. hero for his noble sacrifice and devotion to protect freedom and peace to such a distant country,” a spokesperson for the South Korean agency said during the ceremony.
The remains go next to the U.S. Army’s Camp Humphreys, about 40 miles south of Seoul and the headquarters of U.N. Command, and then to the DPAA laboratory in Hawaii.
The DPAA will further analyze the remains and attempt to identify them.
U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Philip Goldberg and National Defense Vice Minister Shin Beom Chul presided over the ceremony.
“Above all, I would like to pay tribute for all the fallen heroes … who bravely sacrificed their lives to protect freedom and prosperity of [South Korea],” Shin said in a speech.
DPAA director Kelly McKeague also spoke. “The sacrifices our nations shared during the war are the foundations of values we have shared since the war’s end,” he said.
“Those sacrifices were not in vain when one considers the peace, security, stability and prosperity that blesses this nation and its citizens,” McKeague said. “Together we have defended those values resolutely and vigorously.”
Since 2000, South Korea has returned 26 sets of remains to the U.S. and the U.S. has returned 307 to South Korea.
Over 450 Americans killed in the Korean War have been returned to family members since 1982, according to the DPAA website. Roughly 7,600 others are still unaccounted for.
Over 23,600 U.S. troops were killed in action during the war, according to the U.S. Defense Casualty Analysis System. Around 10,000 others succumbed to their wounds or were declared dead after being missing in action or captured.