UIJEONGBU, South Korea — The remains of a U.S. soldier missing in action from the Korean War have been identified and were returned to his family for burial Thursday in his hometown of Cloverport, Ky., the Defense Department announced.

Sgt. Charles P. Whitler was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, in November 1950 when his unit occupied a defensive position near the North Korean town of Unsan by the Kuryong River. U.S. forces were attacked and the fighting eventually turned to hand-to-hand combat around the 3rd Battalion’s command post, the DOD said.

Almost 400 men were reported missing or killed in action following the battle, including eight prisoners of war who died after they were taken into a nearby field and shot, according the DOD.

In May 2004, a U.S.-North Korean team led by the Hawaii-based Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, excavated a mass grave and later identified the remains of seven soldiers, including Whitler.

More than 2,000 servicemen died as prisoners of war in the 1950-53 Korean War and 8,022 servicemembers remain missing.

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