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, were recently identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Master Sgt. Earnest W. Grainger, 28, of Conway, S.C., will be buried April 13, in his hometown. In early July 1950, Grainger, and elements of the 21st Infantry Regiment (IR), 24th Infantry Division (ID), were deployed along the Kum River in western South Korea to maintain their positions long enough for the Republic of Korea (R.O.K) forces to retreat to a more defensible position in the south. From July 10-12, 1950, North Korean forces struck and overran the U.S. positions, inflicting heavy causalities on the 21st IR. During this attack, Grainger was reported missing near the town of Chochiwon.
When no further information on Grainger was received by U.S. forces, and when he failed to return to U.S. control during the Prisoner of War exchanges with the Chinese and North Korean forces during the Armistice, a U.S. military review board re-examined his status, and in 1956, concluded that Grainger was presumed dead and his remains non-recoverable.
In June 2012, personnel from the R.O.K Ministry of National Defense Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification (MAKRI) were canvassing South Korea towns and villages to find information regarding unaccounted-for R.O.K soldiers from the Korean War, when the team located human remains near the town of Chochiwon. Grainger’s remains were among those found and transferred into U.S. custody.
To identify the 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 such as dental comparison which matched Grainger’s records. They also used mitochondrial DNA - which matched Grainger’s sister and nephew.
Today, more than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the Korean War. Identifications continue to be made from the remains that were returned to the United States, using forensic and DNA technology.
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) 699-1169.