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. Richard Isbell, 20, of Fishtrap, Ky., will be buried June 7, in Staffordsville, Ky. In April 1951, Isbell was assigned to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Division (ID). While deployed near Popsudong, South Korea, the 7th ID was attacked by overwhelming Chinese forces, which caused Isbell’s unit to begin a fighting withdrawal to a more defensible position. During this battle on April 25, 1951, Isbell was reported missing in action. However, after the war, Isbell was reported by returning POWs as having been captured by Chinese forces and died in captivity from dysentery on June 30, 1951, in a prisoner of war camp known as Camp 5, in Pyoktong, North Korea.
In 1954, Chinese and North Korean Communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead with the United Nations forces during Operation Glory. In 1956, a military review board declared Isbell’s remains as unidentifiable. He was transferred to be buried as unknown in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, known as the “Punchbowl.”
In 2013, due to advances in forensic technology, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) determined that the possibility of identifying the remains was likely at that time. The unknown remains were disinterred for analysis and possible identification.
In the identification of Isbell’s remains, scientists from JPAC used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as dental comparisons and radiograph comparisons.
Today, 7,883 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 Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.