Thursday, May 3, 2001


U.S. Army forensic team
seeks American remains
in N. Korea

The team will look for soldiers
missing from the Korean War

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Personnel from the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory are in North Korea and will spend the next 30 days trying to recover remains of soldiers and Marines missing from the Korean War.

The 28-member team will work in an area 60 miles north of Pyongyang.

If remains are recovered, they will be airlifted by U.S. Air Force aircraft from Pyongyang and repatriated at the end of this month to the Army's premier forensic lab, located at Hickam Air Force Base.

Johnie Webb, deputy director of the Central Identification Laboratory, said his recovery teams spent time last year working this same area.

"More than a hundred Americans lost their lives there," Webb said. "We recovered more remains there last year than in any previous years."

He estimated that at least 65 sets of remains were repatriated from this North Korean battleground.

Two additional recovery operations on the east and west sides of the Chosin Reservoir in the northeast portion of North Korea will be conducted later this year.

As many as 750 U.S. soldiers and Marines may have been lost during battles in November and December 1950 near the Chosin.

The 10 operations in North Korea this year will conclude with a final repatriation on Nov. 11. Negotiators from the Defense Department's Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office reached agreement with the North Koreans in December to agree on a schedule of recovery operations for this year.

Since recovery operations began in 1996, joint U.S.-North Korean teams have recovered 107 sets of remains. Eight have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Ten more are in the final stages of identification process by the Army identification laboratory.

The agreement calls for 10 joint recovery operations. Eight of the operations will be in the areas of Unsan, Kaechon and Kujang, where battles involving the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry, 2nd Infantry and 25th Infantry were fought in November 1950.

More than 8,100 American servicemen are missing in action from the war.

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