The 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 will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. Billy J. Williams, 20, of Madisonville, Texas, will be buried May 17 in Madison County, Texas. On Feb. 14, 1951, Williams was assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Company, 2nd Infantry Division, when his company was attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces in the vicinity of Chuam-ni, North Korea. He was declared missing in action after the battle.
In 1953, during a prisoner of war exchange historically known as “Operation Big Switch,” a repatriated American service member stated that Williams died in April 1951, while in custody at a prisoner of war camp in Suan, North Korea. A military review board amended his status to deceased in 1953.
Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned to the United States 208 boxes of commingled human remains, which when combined with remains recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea between 1996 and 2005, included the remains of at least 600 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents included in the repatriation indicated that some of the remains were recovered from an associated with the Suan Bean POW Camp, where Williams was reported to have died.
To identify Williams’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence; DNA analysis, including mitochondrial DNA, which matched a maternal aunt and cousin; as well as dental and chest radiograph comparisons, which matched Williams’ records.
Today, 7,819 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using advances in technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered 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.