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The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. soldier, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. Anthony R. La Rossa, 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., will be buried Dec. 15, 2014, in Farmingdale, N.Y. On Feb. 11, 1951, La Rossa was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, as part of Support Force 21. They were deployed near Changbong-ni, South Korea, when their defensive line was attacked by Chinese forces, forcing the unit to withdraw south to a more defensible position. La Rossa was reported as missing in action Feb. 13, 1951.
Reports received after the battle indicated that La Rossa had been captured by Chinese forces and died while in captivity, but these were not substantiated by any eyewitness accounts of American POWs who returned. His remains were not among those returned by communist forces after the Armistice in 1953, or in Operation Glory in 1954. When no information regarding La Rossa was received, a military review board declared him presumed dead and his remains unrecoverable.
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 with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where La Rossa was believed to have died.
To identify La Rossa’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, to include mitochondrial DNA, which matched his brother.
Today, 7,867 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 recovery 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.