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 Pfc. James J. Leonard, Jr., 22, of San Francisco, will be buried January 23 in his hometown. In July 1950, Leonard was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. In the early hours of July 20, Leonard’s regiment arrived east of Yongdong, South Korea, and began preparing to assume the defense of the city. By July 23, Korean People’s Army (KPA) units began attacking American defenses and took control of Yongdong by July 25. Leonard was reported as killed in action on July 25, 1950.
In June 1952, the 392nd Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted searches of the area around Yongdong. All remains recovered were sent to the Army Graves Registration Service Central Identification Unit in Kokura, Japan, but Leonard’s remains were not identified.
In an effort to account for its own war losses, South Korea developed an organization known as the Ministry of National Defense Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification (MAKRI). In early 2017, a local construction crew uncovered possible human remains and material evidence during a road excavation near Yongdong village. On March 30, a MAKRI recovery team recovered the remains and sent them to the MAKRI-Central Identification Laboratory in Seoul. The remains were subsequently sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.
To identify Leonard’s remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and material evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the South Korean government for their assistance in this recovery.
Today, 7,713 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. Leonard’s name is recorded at the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, 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.