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The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Air Force 1st Lt. Robert F. Dees, 23, of Moultrie, Ga., will be buried Jan. 22 at the Longstreet Historical Cemetery in Ozark, Ala. On Oct. 9, 1952, he was flying an F-84 Thunderjet, attacking several targets in North Korea. After he and the other three aircraft from the 430th Fighter-Bomber Squadron completed their attack on their primary target, they began their bombing run against enemy boxcars on the railroad near Sinyang. Other members of his flight reported seeing an explosion near the target they were attacking. They believed it to be the crash of Dees’ aircraft and could not raise any radio contact with him. Airborne searches over the battlefield failed to locate him or his aircraft.
Following the armistice in 1953, the North Koreans repatriated 4,219 remains of U.S. and allied soldiers during Operation Glory. In November 1954, they turned over remains which they reported were recovered from Sinyang. Accompanying the remains were portions of a pilot’s flight suit and a pneumatic life preserver. But after two attempts, the Army’s mortuary at Kokura, Japan, was unable to identify the remains. They were buried in 1956 as “unknown” at the Punch Bowl Cemetery in Hawaii.
Beginning in the late 1990s, analysts from DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) undertook a concentrated review of Korean War air losses, as well as a review of the Kokura mortuary files. They made a tentative association to Dees, based on U.S. wartime records as well as the information provided by the North Koreans. These remains were disinterred from the Punch Bowl Cemetery in June 2010.
1st Lt. Dees’ remains were identified by making extensive dental comparisons with his medical records.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.