(UPDATES) North Korea Returns 55 War Remains
The Military Times reports the lone military “dog tag” provided by North Korea belonged to Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel, an Army medic from Indiana who was killed in the opening months of the Korean War.
The Army on Wednesday handed McDaniel’s slightly corroded dog tag to his sons, Charles Jr. and Larry, who were so young when their father perished that they have little memory of him.
The Military Times reports, “The lone dog tag recovered from North Korea had a name, and now the family knows.”
As mentioned below, “When North Korea handed over 55 boxes of bones that it said are remains of American war dead, it provided a single military dog tag…”
The Army has contacted the family of the service member whose dog tag was returned by North Korea and they will be presented with the tag at Arlington, Va., next week “as they arrive with hundreds of others for an annual meeting on the efforts to find their missing family members.”
The Military Times adds:
The dog tag was among the cases of human bones and a limited number of artifacts, such as boots, buttons and buckles that North Korea said came from the village of SinHung-Ri, location of the 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, said John Byrd, chief scientist for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
More than 3,000 U.S. Marines and soldiers perished at Chosin, and more than 12,000 were wounded in one of costliest battles of the war. Byrd said the North Koreans said the bones came from the eastern side of the village, which leads him to believe they are likely Army remains.
More than 5,300 U.S. remains are still missing in North Korea.
Following up on one of its commitments from the Singapore summit, North Korea has transferred 55 sets of remains of soldiers killed during the Korean War.
The remains were handed over at Wonsan, North Korea, on July 27 and then flown aboard a military aircraft to Osan air base in South Korea, where the “honorable carry ceremony” took place.
Repatriation of 55 cases of remains from North Korea to Osan Air Base, South Korea. (Photo by US Army Sergeant Quince Lanford.)
Jim Garamone at DoD News, Defense Media Activity:
These remains are presumed to be American, but many other nations fought in the Korean War, and it’s possible the remains may come from one of those nations.
The 1950-1953 Korean War was incredibly violent, with 36,940 Americans killed and another 92,134 wounded. Some 7,699 American service members are listed as unaccounted-for from the conflict.
The remains will be examined at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, and experts there will be responsible for identifying the remains. The agency is relatively new — coming into existence in 2015 after the merger of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office.
Many of the fallen service members died in North Korea and were buried by their comrades where they fell. Other U.S. service members were captured and placed in prisoner-of-war camps, where many succumbed to starvation, exposure and torture. Outside those camps are graves of Americans.
The DPAA Laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, is the first U.S. stop for the recently returned remains. The lab is the largest and most diverse skeletal identification laboratory in the world and is staffed by more than 30 anthropologists, archaeologists and forensic odonatologists, United Nations Command release.
Those experts will sort and examine the remains. In the past, North Korea turned over commingled remains.
The lab experts are painstaking in their examination. The age of the remains — at least 65 years old — will complicate the process. The North Koreans collected the remains, and U.S. investigators will have to do the examination without the forensic information they normally would have, such as the approximate place of the burial and the conditions around it.
Examination of dental charts and mitochondrial DNA will be key technologies used to identifying the remains, and the process may take years to complete, DoD officials said.
Confirming the difficulties that lie ahead, the Associated Press reports:
When North Korea handed over 55 boxes of bones that it said are remains of American war dead, it provided a single military dog tag but no other information that could help U.S. forensics experts determine their individual identities, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday
Please watch the videos of the repatriation ceremonies below.
Lead photo: United Nations Command Honor Guard members move cases of remains from one aircraft to another during a repatriation ceremony at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Aug. 1, 2018. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelsey Tucker