News Releases

Soldier Missing from Korean War Accounted For (Keller)

15-051 | July 10, 2015

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and have been returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Sgt. 1st Class John C. Keller, 26, of Bronx, N.Y., has been returned to his family for burial at a date yet determined. In November 1950, Keller was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division when his unit was deployed northwest of Unsan, North Korea. The unit began a fighting withdrawal south when Chinese forces attacked their position. After the battle, Keller was reported missing in action on Nov. 2, 1950; however, U.S. service members later reported that Keller had been captured by the Chinese. He reportedly died in 1951 as a result of malnutrition and medical neglect while in the prisoner of war camp known as Camp 5 near Pyoktong, North Korea.

In September 1954, during Operation Glory, Chinese and North Korean Communist forces and United Nations forces exchanged the remains of war dead, some of which were reportedly recovered from POW Camp 5.

In December 1955, a military review board declared the remains unidentifiable and the remains were transferred to be buried as unknowns in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Hawaii, known as the “Punchbowl.”

In 2012, due to advances in forensic science technology and extensive research, scientists from the Department of Defense determined that the possibility of identifying the remains now existed. The unknown remains were disinterred for analysis and possible identification.

To identify Keller’s remains, scientists from DPAA used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, to include dental comparison and radiograph comparisons, which matched his records.

Today, 7,846 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American teams.

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 or call (703) 699-1420.