U.S. Soldier Missing From Korean War Identified (Morelli)

Release No: 11-042 Nov. 1, 2011 PRINT | E-MAIL

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. Eugene M. Morelli, 21, of Santa Ysabel, Calif., will be buried on Nov. 5, in Ramona, Calif. In February 1951, Morelli and elements of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division of the United Nations Forces, were forced to withdraw during the Battle for Hoengsong, in South Korea. Morelli was captured by Communist Forces and held in a POW camp in Suan County, North Korea.

In 1953, after the conclusion of the war, and the exchange of Prisoners of War known as “Operation Big Switch,” a returned U.S. soldier reported that Morelli had died in captivity due to malnutrition.

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 where Morelli was held as a POW.

Among forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used dental records, and mitochondrial DNA – which matched that of Morelli’s niece—in the identification.

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.