The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. soldier, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph E. Gantt, 26, of Los Angeles, will be buried Dec. 28, 2013, in Inglewood, Calif. In late 1950, Gantt was a member of the 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. The Division was involved in heavy fighting with Chinese forces north and east of the town of Kunu-Ri, North Korea, and on November 30, began a fighting withdrawal to the south. Before they could disengage, the Division was forced to fight through a series of Chinese roadblocks and Sgt. 1st Class Gantt was among many men reported missing that day, in the vicinity of Somindong, North Korea.
In 1953, returning American soldiers who had been held as prisoners of war reported that Gantt had been captured by Chinese forces on Nov. 30, 1950, and died of malnutrition in March or April 1951, in prisoner of war Camp 5 in Pyokdong, North Korea. Gantt’s remains were not among those repatriated by the Chinese or North Koreans in 1954.
In early 2006, a South Korean citizen turned over human remains, which appeared to represent U.S. service members, to U.S. authorities. The remains were taken to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) for analysis.
In the identification of Gantt, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as dental comparison and mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched Gantt’s cousins.
Today there are 7,896 Americans unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials.