The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Cpl. Joe W. Howard, 23, of Philadelphia will be buried Jan. 9, in Jacksonville, Fla.. In November 1950, Howard was a member of Company A, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division (ID), when his unit was attacked by Chinese forces near Kunu-ri, North Korea. On November 30, the 2nd ID disengaged enemy forces to withdrawal south. Howard was reported missing Dec. 1, 1950, near vicinity of Kunu-ri.
In 1953, as part of prisoner exchange, known as Operation Big Switch, returning U.S. service members reported that Howard had been captured by the Chinese and died due to malnutrition while in captivity in 1951, in Prisoner of War Camp 5 near Pyoktong, North Korea.
During Operation Glory in September 1954, United Nations and Chinese forces exchanged the remains of war dead, some of which were reportedly recovered from POW Camp 5 at Pyoktong.
A military review board in December 1954 declared the remains as unidentifiable and transferred them to Hawaii to be buried as unknown in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the “Punchbowl.”
In 2012, due to advances in technology, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) determined that the possibility of identifying the remains now existed. The unknown remains were disinterred for analysis and possible identification.
To identify Howard’s remains, scientists from JPAC used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as dental comparison, which matched Howard’s records.
Today, 7,896 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 from North Korea by American teams.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo