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. Charlie Wilcher Jr., 21, of Sanderville, Ga., will be buried June 1, in Jacksonville, Fla. In late November 1950, Wilcher was assigned to Company A, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division (ID), which was deployed near the town of Kujang, North Korea, when their defensive line was attacked by Chinese forces. This attack forced the unit to withdraw south to a more defensible position. Before they could disengage, the 2nd ID suffered extensive casualties, with numerous men being taken captive. Wilcher was reported missing in action Nov. 30, 1950.
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 with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where Wilcher was believed to have died.
From July 3 to July 5, 2001, a joint U.S./Democratic Republic of North Korea (D.P.R.K.) team excavated a purported burial site near Kujang, recovering human remains. Those remains, and some of the remains turned over between 1990 and 1994, were identified as Wilcher.
To identify Wilcher’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched samples provided by his sister.
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.