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 Cpl. Abilesio L. Apodaca, 18, of Albuquerque, N.M., will be buried May 23, in Santa Fe, N.M. In early 1951, Apodaca and elements of Heavy Mortar Company, 9th Infantry Regiment (IR), 2nd Infantry Division (ID), were occupying a position in the vicinity of Hoengsong, South Korea, when their unit was overwhelmed by Chinese forces. This attack caused the 9th IR to withdraw south to a more defensible position. Apodaca was reported missing after the attack.
In 1953, returning American soldiers who had been held as prisoners of war reported that Apodaca had been captured by Chinese forces and died in a prisoner of war camp known as Camp 5 in Pyokdong, North Korea.
Between 1991 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 Apodaca was believed to have died.
From June 2-8, 1999, a joint U.S./D.P.R.K. team excavated a secondary burial site in an agricultural field east-northeast of Kujang, North Korea and recovered remains. These remains, and some of the remains turned over between 1991 and 1994, were identified as Apodaca.
In the identification of Apodaca’s remains, scientists from DPAA and Armed Forces DNA Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA, which matched his cousins.
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.
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.