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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 Master Sgt. Joseph Durakovich, 30, of Gary, Indiana, will be buried April 10 in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. In late November 1950, Durakovich was a member of Company G, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, establishing a defensive position in Pongmyong-ni east of Kuni-ri, North Korea, when they were attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF). The Americans were continually attacked as they withdrew along the main supply route to Samso-ri, and they encountered a roadblock they could not break through. Following the battle, Durakovich could not be accounted for and was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950.
Durakovich’s name did not appear on any POW list provided by the CPVF or the North Korean People’s Army, and no returning American POWs provided any information concerning Durakovich as a possible prisoner of war. Based on this information, a military review board amended his status to deceased in 1953.
In August and September 2002, a Joint U.S. and Korean People’s Army recovery team conducted a Joint Recovery Operation at a site in Ung Bong, Village, North Korea, based on information provided by two Korean witnesses. The site was approximately 30 kilometers from where Durakovich was last seen. During the excavation, the team recovered material evidence and possible human remains.
To identify Durakovich’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial and Y-chromosome short tandem repeat DNA analysis, which matched a niece and grandson, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,755 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea 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, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.