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 http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.