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The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Master Sgt. Olen B. Williams, 37, of Verbena, Ala., will be buried June 9, in Clanton, Ala. In late 1950, Williams and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT) were establishing a defensive line south of a bridge across the P’ungnyuri River, near a small village in Sinhung-ni, North Korea, when the 31st RCT was attacked by enemy forces. As a result of the battle, Williams was reported missing in action.
In 1954, the United Nations and Communist Forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called "Operation Glory." Among the remains that were turned over at that time were remains of servicemen who died and were buried on the eastern bank of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. The remains were transferred to the Central Identification Unit (CIU) in Kokura, Japan, for scientific analysis.
In October 1955, a military review board declared the remains within seven boxes unidentifiable. The unidentified remains were transferred to Hawaii, where they were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the “Punchbowl.”
In 2012, analysts from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) reevaluated Williams’ records and determined that, due to the advances in technology, the remains recovered from Operation Glory should be exhumed for identification.
To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as dental and radiograph comparison –which matched Williams’ records.
Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously recovered from North and South Korea. 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.