The largest repatriation of remains of South Korean soldiers who fought alongside U.S. troops in the Korean War is being held at 4 p.m. EDT today at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
The soldiers’ remains are being returned to their homeland of South Korea after 67 years away, officials said.
“This, like the past repatriation, is due to the strong and long standing partnership between the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and [South Korea’s] Ministry of National Defense Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification,” said Lee Tucker, spokesman for the Defense Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency, said. “It is the incredible improvements in technology, advancements in forensic science and the strong partnership between DPAA and MAKRI which led to these identifications.”
Scientists with DPAA and MAKRI have conducted joint forensic investigations and were able to validate these 147 remains as being of South Korean origin, according to a Pentagon statement.
North Korea turned over 77 of the remains samples, held in 55 boxes for examination in July 2018, according to the statement. The rest of the remains were repatriated in the early 1990s, Tucker said.
Following today’s ceremony in Hawaii, a June 25 ceremony in Seoul, South Korea will be held. That anniversary also commemorates the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953 and claimed the lives of an estimated 36,574 American lives and wounded another 103,284, according to the Department of Defense.
As of April, 7,600 U.S. troops were still missing.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.