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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 Master Sgt. Robert A. Stein, 29, of Jamestown, N.Y., will be buried April 27, in Arlington Heights, Ill. In late 1950, Stein and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT) were engaged by vastly superior numbers of enemy forces east of the Chosin Reservoir near Sinhung-ri, South Hamgyong Province, North Korea. On Dec. 1, 1950, remnants of the 31st RCT, known historically as Task Force Faith, began a fighting withdrawal to a more defensible position near Hagaru-ri, south of the reservoir. Stein was reported missing Dec. 2, 1950.
After the 1953 armistice, surviving prisoners of war who returned during "Operation Big Switch" said Stein had died in a POW camp during an aircraft rocket attack. Stein's remains were not part of the 1954 United Nations and Communist Forces remains exchange known as "Operation Glory."
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of human remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. servicemen. North Korean documents, turned over with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the area where Stein 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 Stein. They also used mitochondrial DNA–which matched Stein’s cousin.
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 are still 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.