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The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. George L. Rights, 23, of Winston-Salem, N.C., will be buried Aug. 9, in his hometown. In February 1951, Rights and elements of Battery B, 15th Field Artillery (FA) Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division (ID), were supporting the Republic of South Korea when the 15th FA was attacked by Chinese forces near Hoengsong, South Korea. Elements of the 2ID suffered more than 200 casualties, and more than 100 men were taken as prisoners during this attack. Following the battle, Rights was reported as missing in action.
In 1953, during a prisoner of war exchange historically known as Operation Big Switch, returning American soldiers who had been held as prisoners of war reported that Rights had been captured by Chinese forces, and died in May 1951, in a prisoner of war camp, known as Bean Camp, in Suan, North Korea.
Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea turned over to the U.S. 208 boxes believed to contain the remains of more than 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents turned over at that time indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the area where Rights was believed to have died.
To identify Rights’ remains, scientists from the DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and two forms of DNA analysis including; mitochondrial DNA, which matched his brother and sister, and Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA (Y-STR) analysis, which matched his brother and nephew.
Today, more than 7,800 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered by American teams.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call (703) 699-1420.