The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office 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. William N. Bonner, 23, of Sault Sainte Marie, Mich., will be buried June 28, in his hometown. On Nov. 2, 1950, Bonner was assigned to Medical Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, when his unit was attacked by Chinese forces near Unsan, North Korea. Bonner was reported last serving as a litter bearer near the battalion aid station when the area was overrun by enemy forces.
In 1953, as part of a prisoner exchange, known as Operation Big Switch, returning U.S. service members reported that Bonner had been captured by the Chinese and died from malnutrition in early 1951, in the prisoner of war (POW) camp known as 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. When a military review board declared the remains as unidentifiable, the remains were transferred to Hawaii to be buried as unknown in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the “Punchbowl.”
In 2013, due to advances in forensic science, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) determined there was a possibility of identifying the remains. After extensive historical and analytical research, the unknown remains were disinterred for analysis and possible identification.
To identify Bonner’s remains, scientists from JPAC used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including radiograph comparisons and dental records which matched Bonner’s records.
Today, 7,882 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 or call (703) 699-1169.