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 Cpl. Melvin R. Hill, 19, of Pomona, California, will be buried February 4 in Alex, Oklahoma. In late November 1950, Hill was one of 2,500 U.S. and 700 Republic of Korea soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team on the east side of the Chosin River. On the night of Nov. 27, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Force surrounded the 31st RCT and attacked. Continued attacks over subsequent days forced Americans to withdraw. By Dec. 6, 1950, approximately 1,500 wounded soldiers were evacuated, and the remaining had been either captured or killed. Hill was reported missing in action as a result of the battles.
Hill’s name did not appear on any list as a prisoner of war and no repatriated Americans could provide any information concerning Hill. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared Hill deceased as of Dec. 31, 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, included the remains of approximately 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents included in the repatriation indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the area where Hill was believed to have died.
To identify Hill’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched two nephews.
Today, 7,763 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.