An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News Release

Press Release | July 7, 2011

Soldier Missing From Korean War Identified (Stai)

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 returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Capt. Melvin R. Stai, 33, of Spokane, Wash., will be buried on July 9 in his hometown. After the 1953 armistice, it was learned from surviving POWs that he had been captured in January 1951, marched north to a POW camp in Suan County, North Korea, and died while in captivity when allies attacked the camp in April 1951.

Between 1991-94, 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 one of the boxes indicated that the remains, contained in the box, were exhumed near Suan County. This location correlates with the Stai’s last known location.

Analysts from DPMO developed leads in Stai’s case with information spanning more than 58 years. Through interviews with surviving POW eyewitnesses, experts validated circumstances surrounding the soldier’s captivity and death, confirming wartime documentation of his loss.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA – which matched that of his sister – to identify of Stai’s remains.

More than 2,000 servicemen died as prisoners of war during the Korean War. With this accounting, 7,990 servicemembers still remain missing from the conflict.

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.