The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today
that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been
identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Cpl. Agustin Alvarez, 22, of Los Angeles, Calif., will be buried on Dec. 17, in his
hometown. In November 1950, Alvarez and soldiers from the Heavy Mortar Company, 3rd
Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, were forced to withdraw during a battle on the eastern side of
the Chosin Reservoir, near Kaljon-ri, North Korea. Alvarez and many other men were taken as
prisoners of war at that time.
Following the end of the Korean War, returned prisoners reported that Alvarez had died
from wounds and lack of medical care while in enemy hands, sometime in December 1950. In
the fall of 1954, during Operation Glory, Communist forces turned over remains of U.S.
servicemen who died in the Korean War, but Alvarez was not included among those remains.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of remains
believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. servicemen. North Korean documents, turned
over with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the human remains were recovered near
Kaljon-ri, where Alvarez been held as a prisoner of war. Metal identification tags that were
included with the remains bore Alvarez’s name and service number.
Along with forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the
Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and AFDIL used mitochondrial DNA – which matched
that of Alvarez’s nephew—in the identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing
Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.