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The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from the Korean War, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Cpl. Clarence R. Skates, 19, of Los Angeles, will be buried September 15 in Riverside, California. In November 1950, Skates was a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when the division suffered heavy losses between the towns of Kunu-ri and Sunchon, North Korea. Skates’ regiment suffered many casualties, and he was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950, after his unit was overrun by units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF).
At the end of the war, during “Operation Big Switch,” where all remaining prisoners of war were returned, the former prisoners were interviewed. One reported hearing that Skates died while marching to POW Camp 5, but he was unable to provide further information. Based on this information, Skates was declared deceased as of Feb. 5, 1954.
In August and September 2002, a Joint U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory—Hawaii (predecessor to DPAA), and KPA Recovery Team conducted the 28th Joint Recovery Operation in Unsan County, North Pyongan Province, North Korea. A site reported to be a temporary prison camp was located and recovery operations were conducted. Remains of up to 11 individuals were recovered and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
To identify Skates’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA analysis, which matched his family, as well as anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,729 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. Skates’ name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
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.