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
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
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
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.