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. Edward Saunders, 27, of Baltimore, will be buried June 7 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In February 1951, Saunders was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. His unit was attached to the Republic of Korea Army’s 16th Regiment to provide support during a planned offensive, when they were attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Force (CPVF) on the night of February 11 and 12. Both units retreated east, joining U.S. units at Saemal, South Korea. The regiment continued to fight the CPVF along the withdrawal route to Hoensong. By the end of the battle, only six soldiers remained. It was during this battle that Saunders became missing in action.
Following the war, one returning American prisoner of war reported that he and Saunders had been captured on Feb. 12, 1951, and that Saunders died sometime in August 1951 in Koksan, North Korea. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Aug. 31, 1951.
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, account for the remains of at least 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 Saunders was believed to have died.
To identify Saunders’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA), Y- chromosome (Y-STR) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA analysis, which matched a brother; as well as laboratory analysis, including dental, chest x-ray and anthropological analysis, which matched his records; and circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,747 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.