The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) 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. Eugene L. Erickson, 21, of Brainerd, Minn., will be buried May 13, in Santa Fe, N.M. In mid May 1951, Erickson and elements of Company B, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment (IR), 2nd Infantry Division (ID), were engaged against enemy forces north of Hougchon, South Korea, when their unit was overwhelmed by Chinese forces. This attack caused the 38th IR to withdraw south to a more defensible position. Erickson was reported missing after the attack.
In September 1953, as part of a prisoner of war exchange known as Operation Big Switch, returning American soldiers who had been held as prisoners of war, reported that Erickson had been captured by Chinese forces. Reports indicated he died in the summer of 1951from dysentery and malnutrition, while held in a prisoner of war camp in Suan, North Korea. A military review board later amended Erickson’s status to deceased.
Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea 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 Erickson was believed to have died.
In the identification of Erickson’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including two forms of DNA analysis, mitochondrial DNA, which matched his brother and niece, and Y-Chromosome Short Tandem Repeat (Y-STR) DNA, 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 teams.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call (703) 699-1420.