The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from the Korean War, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. Albert E. Atkins, 20, of Belvidere, New Jersey will be buried December 15 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. On May 23, 1951, Atkins was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, when his unit was attacking enemy forces near Mae-Bong, South Korea. The regiment’s mission was to secure Hill 911, and as the company prepared to assault the hill, Atkins and two other soldiers from his company were reported missing in action.
On Sept. 17, 1966, two South Koreans provided information regarding three side-by-side graves in the vicinity of Kwandra-ri, South Korea. A U.S. Army Graves Registration team recovered the remains and sent them to the Central Identification Unit in Yokohama, Japan for analysis. Two of the remains were individually identified as members of Atkins’ company, but the third, X-6385, could not be identified and was interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
After a thorough historical and scientific analysis of information associated with X-6385 it was determined that the remains could likely be identified. After receipt of approval, the remains were disinterred from the NMCP on Nov. 1, 2005 and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
To identify Atkins’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, involving Next-Generation Sequencing, which matched his family, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the South Korean citizens who assisted in this recovery.
Today, 7,715 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams. Atkins’ name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.