The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. soldier, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. Christopher Y. Vars, 40, of Chelsea, Mass., will be buried Oct. 6, in Everett, Mass. In late 1950, Vars was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division (ID), which was deployed north and east of the town of Kunu-ri, North Korea. On Nov. 27, 1950, 2nd ID was forced to withdraw south to a more defensible position after being attacked by Chinese forces. Before they could disengage, the 2nd ID had to fight through a series of Chinese roadblocks, commonly known as “the Gauntlet.” Vars was reported missing in action during the battle.
In 1953, during a prisoner of war exchange, returning American soldiers who had been held as prisoners of war reported that Vars was not among the many men captured and held as prisoners.
Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea turned over to the U.S. 208 boxes of human remains now believed to contain at least 600 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents turned over with some of the boxes indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where captured soldiers from Var’s unit were believed to have died.
To identify Vars’ remains, scientists from the DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and two forms of DNA analysis including; mitochondrial DNA, which matched his cousins, and Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA (Y-STR) analysis, which matched his nephews.
Today, more than 7,800 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 by American recovery 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.