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 Pfc. Aaron Pearce, 23, of Johnston, N.C., will be buried on Oct. 8 in Kenly, N.C. In
late April of 1950, Pearce and the 25th Infantry Division were advancing north of the Han’tan
River in South Korea when Chinese forces attacked, in what came to be known as the “Spring
Offensive.” After days of heavy fighting, the 25th Infantry Division was pushed back to Seoul,
Korea. Pearce and many other soldiers were reported missing in action as a result of this
In 1952, U.S. Graves Registration Service personnel recovered military clothing and
human remains near the area that had been covered by the 25th Infantry Division during the
Spring Offensive. At the time the Army was unable to identify Pearce, and the remains were
buried as “unknown” at the United Nations Military Cemetery in Tanggok, South Korea. In
1954, the remains were exhumed and reanalyzed. No identification was possible given the
technology of the time and the remains were once again interred as “unknown” at the National
Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
In 2010, analysts from the Department of Defense’s Central Identification Lab reexamined
the records for all unaccounted-for losses in the vicinity of where the unknown remains
had been recovered, and exhumed the remains for further analysis. Military clothing and metal
identification tags that were included with the remains, along with improved technology and
methods of analysis helped to determine the identity of the remains.
Among forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint
POW/MIA Accounting Command used dental records and radiography in the identification of
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.