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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 Cpl. Robert J. Tait, 19, of Bar Harbor, Maine, will be buried Oct. 5, in his
hometown. In late 1950, Tait a member of the Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery
Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, engaged in a battle with enemy forces east of the
Chosin Reservoir, in North Korea. As the battle continued, the 31st RCT, known historically as
Task Force Faith, began a fighting withdrawal to a more defensible position. Following the
battle, Tait was reported missing on Dec. 6, 1950.
In August 1953, returning U.S. soldiers reported that Tait had been captured on Dec. 2,
1950, and died shortly afterward due to lack of medical care and malnutrition. His remains were
not among those returned by the Communist Forces during Operation Glory in 1954.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of human remains
believed to contain the remains of 350 - 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 Tait was believed to have died in 1950, near the Chosin Reservoir.
Between 1990 and 2000, teams from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, (JPAC)
excavated and recovered human remains near the Chosin Reservoir. Some of those remains are
also associated with Tait. The remains were repatriated and taken to JPAC’s laboratory in Hawaii
To identify Tait’s remains, scientists from the JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA
Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as
dental comparison, and DNA. Three forms of DNA were used to identify Tait’s remains –
Mitochondrial DNA, which matched his sister, Y-STR and auSTR DNA.
Today, more than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using
modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned
over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American teams.
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) 699-1127.