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 are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He is Cpl. Leslie R. Heath, of Bridgeport, Illinois. His interment is scheduled for August
20 in Bridgeport.
On the morning of April 23, 1951, Heath and more than 80 members of the A Company,
1st Battalion, 5th Regimental Combat Team were captured by the Chinese Communist forces.
They were held in a temporary POW camp known as Suan Camp Complex, in North Hwanghae
Province, North Korea. A former American POW who was returned to the U.S. through
Operation Little Switch recounted that Heath died in June 1951 while imprisoned.
On July 16, 1993, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea returned 17 boxes of
remains to the U.S. from the Korean War. One of the boxes contained remains of several
individuals and two of Heath’s identification tags. Scientists of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command (JPAC) conducted years of forensic examinations of the remains and associated
evidence until they made an identification two months ago.
Information provided by the North Koreans about the recovered remains was consistent
with the approximate location where Heath was believed held captive and died. Artifacts in the
boxes were those of a soldier in the U.S. Army infantry at the time of the war.
JPAC submitted skeletal remains on 11 occasions to the Armed Forces DNA
Identification Laboratory for analysis. Heath’s mitochondrial DNA sequence matched that of
two of his maternal relatives.
Of the 88,000 Americans unaccounted-for from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold
War, the Vietnam War and Desert Storm, more than 8,100 are from the Korean War. More than
2,000 of those were held as prisoners of war.
For additional information on the Department of Defense’s mission to account for
missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.