The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. soldier, unaccounted for from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. John R. Bowers, 18, of Piedmont S.C., will be buried March 21, in his hometown. On Feb. 11, 1951, Bowers was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment (IR), 2nd Infantry Division (ID), which was engaged in a battle against enemy forces in the vicinity of Changbong-ni, Republic of South Korea. Enemy forces overwhelmed the 9th IR, and they were forced to withdraw to a more defensible position. On Feb. 14, 1951, Bowers was reported missing in action.
On June 20, 1951, the Chinese reported that Bowers was captured and was held in the prisoner of war camp, known as Camp 5, near Pyokdong, North Korea. On Dec. 26, 1951, Chinese forces reported that Bowers died May 3, 1951, as a result of friendly fire.
In late 1953, when no further information pertaining to Bowers was received during the prisoner of war exchange, known as “Operation Big Switch,” and his remains were not among those turned over to the U.S. by communist forces after the Armistice, a military review board amended his status to presumed dead.
Between 1991 and 1994, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K) turned over to the U.S. 208 boxes of human remains believed to contain more than 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents, turned over at that time, indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where Bowers was believed to have died.
To identify Bowers, scientists from the DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence, dental comparison, and forensic identification tools, to include two forms of DNA analysis: mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched his sister and brother, and Y- chromosome Short Tandem Repeat (Y-STR) DNA analysis, which matched his brother.
Today, 7,852 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 by American recovery teams.