The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. Raymond B. Wellbrock, 20, of Cincinnati, Ohio, will be buried March 9, in his hometown. In late November 1950, Wellbrock and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT) were deployed along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir near Sinhung-ri, South Hamgyong Province, in North Korea. On Nov. 29, 1950, remnants of the 31st RCT, known historically as Task Force Faith, began a fighting withdrawal to a more defensible position near the Hangaru-ri, south of the reservoir. Wellbrock was reported missing Dec. 12, 1950.
In August 1953, during part of a prisoner exchange between U.S. and communist forces, a returning U.S. soldier told government officials that Wellbrock was captured by enemy forces and died shortly afterward from battlefield wounds and lack of medical treatment. His remains were not among those returned by communist forces during Operation Glory in 1954.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. service members. North Korean documents, turned over with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the human remains were recovered from the area where Wellbrock was last seen.
In the identification of the remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence, compiled by DPMO and JPAC researchers, and forensic identification tools, such as dental comparison, to identify Wellbrock. They also used mitochondrial DNA– which matched Wellbrock’s brother and sister.
Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials. Today, more than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1420