The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, unaccounted for from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. Gilberto L. Sanchez, 19, of New Braunfels, Texas, will be buried Jan. 23, in San Antonio. In late November 1950, Sanchez was assigned to Medical Company, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT). The 31st RCT was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. On Dec. 1, 1950, remnants of the 31st RCT, known historically as Task Force Faith, began a fighting withdrawal to more defensible positions near Hagaru-ri, south of the reservoir. On Dec. 2, 1950, Sanchez was reported as missing in action.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea turned over to the U.S. 208 boxes of human remains believed to contain more than 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents, turned over at that time, indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the area where Sanchez was believed to have died.
To identify Sanchez’s remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools including mitochondrial DNA, which matched Sanchez’s sister and brothers, and Y-STR DNA analysis, which matched his brothers.
Today, 7,860 Americans remain 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 or recovered by American teams.