The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, killed during the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Cpl. James T. Mainhart, 19, of Butler, Pennsylvania, will be buried April 8 in his hometown. In late November 1950, Mainhart was a member of Company I, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was engaged by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. By Dec. 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured or killed in enemy territory. When the unit withdrew from the east side of the Chosin Reservoir. Mainhart’s body could not be evacuated. He was reported killed in action as of Nov. 30, 1950.
Mainhart’s name did not appear on any prisoner of war lists and no repatriated Americans were able to provide any information concerning Mainhart as a prisoner of war. Due to the prolonged lack of evidence, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Nov. 30, 1950.
Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service hoped to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Mainhart’s remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable.
In September and October 2004, personnel from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (now DPAA), conducted the 36th Joint Recovery Operation with the Korean People’s Army in the vicinity of the Chosin River. During the mission, a witness statement reported that remains believed to be American had been found and reburied. Recovery Team 2 found a site that contained material evidence and possible remains of at least five individuals.
To identify Mainhart’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA), Y-chromosome (Y-STR) and autosomal (auDNA) DNA analysis, which matched a brother and nephew, as well as anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,757 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, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.