War dead not forgotten
The recent arrival of 55 cases of remains believed to be American soldiers killed in the Korean War, was a sign of how dedicated our country is to accounting for each and every member of the armed forces who gave his or her life in service for our country.
The remains were treated with great care and reverence when taken from North Korea to Osan Air Base, South Korea and then to the United States.
The U.S. Department of Defense said the 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 other nations.
The 1950-1952 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.
It will now be up to the experts of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to examine and identify these remains in a process that could take years.
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.
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, DOD said.
Those experts will sort and examine the remains. In the past, North Korea turned over commingled remains. The age of the remains — at least 65 years old — will complicate the process.
Examination of dental charts and mitochondrial DNA will be key technologies used to identifying the remains, DOD officials said.
However much time it takes, our nation owes it to every soldier who lost his or her life in service to our country, to be accounted for, returned to his or her family and given a proper burial.