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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 Pvt. Walter F. Piper, 21, of Williamstown, New Jersey, will be buried June 17 in his hometown. In February 1951, Piper was a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, supporting Republic of Korea Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the village of Hoengsong, an area known as the Central Corridor in South Korea. After enduring sustained enemy attacks, the American units withdrew to Wonju, South Korea. It was during this withdrawal that Piper was reported missing, as of Feb. 13, 1951.
On Dec. 26, 1951, Piper’s name appeared on a list provided by the CPVF and Korean People’s Army (KPA) of allied service members who died while in their custody. Two returning American prisoners of war reported that Piper had died while a prisoner at the Suan Prisoner of War Camp Complex in North Korea. Based off of this information, the Army declared him deceased as of June 18, 1951.
Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned to the United States 208 boxes of commingled human remains, which were later determined to contain the remains of at least 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. On June 24, 1991, the DPRK turned over 11 boxes of remains believed to be unaccounted-for Americans from the war.
To identify Piper’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA), Y-chromosome short tandem repeat (Y-SYR) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA analysis, which matched a brother, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,745 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.