The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. soldier, unaccounted for from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt.1st Class Gordon L. Hannah, 27, of Grand Rapids, Minn., will be buried Jan. 7, 2015, in Fort Snelling, Minn. On Jan. 28, 1951, Hannah was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division (ID), which was engaged in a battle against enemy forces in the vicinity of Wonju, Republic of South Korea. Hannah was reported missing in action after the battle.
In late 1953, as part of a prisoner of war exchange, known as “Operation Big Switch,” returning U.S. soldiers told debriefers that Hannah was captured Jan. 28, 1951, by enemy forces and died from dysentery in early 1951 at Suan Bean Camp. His remains were not among those turned over to the U.S. by communist forces after the Armistice.
Between 1991 and 1994, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K) 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 at that time, indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where Hannah was believed to have died. In addition, in late 2000, a joint U.S./D.P.R.K. team excavated a purported burial site near Kujang, North Korea, where they recovered commingled human remains. Hannah’s remains were recovered during these two field activities. To identify Hannah scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence, dental and radiograph comparison, and forensic identification tools, to include two forms of DNA analysis mitochondrial DNA, which matched his niece and nephew and Y-STR DNA, which matched his son.
Today, 7,865 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.