Korean War remains identified as United States troops, Mattis says

Blanche Robertson
September 14, 2018

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii-The U.S. has identified the remains of two service members among the 55 boxes returned by North Korea this summer, officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accountability Agency said Monday.

Mattis later confirmed that two sets of remains had been identified "right now", but said "we're working" on additional identifications.

Reuters reported that remains from the two identified troops are believed to have been recovered from a battle near the Chongchon River.

Scientists say it is unclear whether some of the boxes contain the remains of more than one body. Vice President Pence spoke at the repatriation ceremony, where he praised the event as "tangible progress" in negotiations between the US and North Korea.

North Korea pledged to return the remains of U.S. servicemen who had fallen during the Korean War at the June summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong Un. "And that kind of realization that we have was made possible because of the relatively more complete condition (of the remains)". They are understood to have died near the Chongchon River as the US suffered heavy casualties at the hands of Chinese troops.

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According to estimates from the Department of Defense, there are approximately 7,700 USA troops who remain missing from the Korean War.

She spoke above tables of bone fragments, still separated with numbers corresponding with 55 boxes used by North Korea to deliver them to the United States.

Other tables included personal objects from soldiers that don't have any identification on them, including buttons, canteens and old boots. It could, therefore, take years to identify all the bodies correctly, with the process requiring the use of DNA samples, analyzing dental records, and chest X-rays.

Jin, a South Korean-born American citizen, said the work has a personal connection. He was evacuated south on a U.S. Navy ship, she said.

The July transfer coincided with the 65th anniversary of the 1953 armistice that ended fighting between North Korean and Chinese forces and South Korean and US-led forces under the UN Command. The two nations are still technically at war, but hostilities ended following the signing of what was meant to be a temporary armistice in 1953.

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