The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, were recently identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Cpl. Lonald D. Skeens, 19, of Denver, Ky., will be buried Nov. 30, in Paintsville, Ky. On Sept. 3, 1950, Skeens and elements of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, were overrun by enemy forces near Haman, South Korea. After the battle, Skeens was reported as missing in action.
In 1951, Korean National Police recovered remains associated with the battle and turned them over to U.S. officials. The U.S. Army was unable to identify Skeens’ remains at the time, and he was buried as “unknown” in the U.N. Cemetery at Tanggok, South Korea. Later that year, the U.S. consolidated cemeteries on the peninsula and the remains were sent to the U.S. Army’s Central Identification Unit in Kokura, Japan, to determine whether they could be identified. When scientific analysis determined identification of the remains was not possible, Skeens’ remains were transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii and reinterred as “unknown.”
In 2011, due to advances in identification technology, analysts from DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) reevaluated the information associated with the remains interred in Hawaii and concluded that they could likely be identified.
In the identification of Skeens’ remains, scientists from the JPAC used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including skeletal comparison.
Today, 7871 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were buried as unknowns in American cemeteries and those previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered 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.