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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 Pfc. Herene K. Blevins, 18, of Hagerstown, Md., will be buried Aug. 27, in his
hometown. In late November 1950 Blevins and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team
(RCT) were deployed along the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when they came
under attack by Communist forces. The 31st RCT began a fighting withdrawal to a more
defensible position near Hagaru-ri, south of the reservoir. Following the battle, Blevins was
reported missing on Dec. 2, 1950.
In 1953, returning U.S. prisoners of war told debriefers that Blevins had been captured by
enemy forces and taken to a prisoner of war camp known as “Death Valley.” Soldiers also stated
that Blevins died from malnutrition shortly after being captured. His remains were not among
those returned by communist forces 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 Blevins was last seen.
In the identification of Blevins, 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 comparisons and mitochondrial DNA –
which matched Blevins’ brother.
Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were
previously turned over by North Korean officials. More than 7,900 American service members
are 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) 699-1169.