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News Release

Press Release | July 27, 2011

Soldier Missing From Korean War Identified (Lavelle)

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 will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. John G. Lavelle, 24, of Brooklyn, N.Y., will be buried Aug 1 in Calverton, N.Y. On Dec. 1, 1950, he was assigned to the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division when his unit was overrun by enemy forces near Kunu-ri, North Korea. Lavelle was reported missing in action. Surviving POWs said he had been captured by enemy forces and died of malnutrition in captivity in the spring of 1951.

During Operation Glory in the fall of 1954, China turned over remains they claimed to be those of U.S. servicemen who died in the Korean War. Records returned with the remains indicated one of the servicemen died in Prisoner of War Camp 5 at Pyoktong, on the China-North Korea border. At the time the Army was unable to identify Lavelle and the remains were buried as “unknown” the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

In 2010, scientists at Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) concluded they had evidence that supported identification of the Unknown Soldier who died in Camp 5. The remains were exhumed in March 2011 and scientists from the JPAC identified Lavelle’s remains through dental comparisons and circumstantial evidence related to the 1954 turnovers.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at or call (703) 699-1169.