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 Maj. Stephen T. Uurtamo, 32, of Chicago, accounted for on Sept. 27, 2017, will be buried June 19 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In late November 1950, Uurtamo was a member of Headquarters Battery, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, which was engaged in persistent attacks with the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) near the Ch’ongch’on River in North Korea. On Nov. 30, 1950, the Division began to withdraw south along the Main Supply Route, known as “The Gauntlet.” During the withdrawal, the 82nd lost many Soldiers, one of whom was Uurtamo who was declared missing in action as of Dec. 1, 1950, when he could not be accounted for.
Following the war, several returning American prisoners of war reported that Uurtamo had been captured and died at the prisoner of war transient camp, known as Hofong Camp, in North Korea in January 1951. Based on this information, the U.S. Army declared Uurtamo deceased on Jan. 21, 1951.
In April 2005, a joint U.S./Korean People’s Army Recovery team recovered 32 sets of remains from a site south of Unsan, North Korea. Based on the recovered material evidence and surrounding conditions, it was determined this was a secondary burial site.
To identify Uurtamo’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA), Y-chromosome (Y-STR) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA analysis, anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,702 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. Uurtamo’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, 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) 699-1420/1169.