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 Sgt. 1st Class Robert Reager, 20, of Coraopolis, Penn., will be buried Sept. 28, in Bridgeville, Penn. On Dec. 1, 1950, Reager was assigned to Company C, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), 7th Infantry Division. The 31st RCT was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was engaged by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. In late November 1950, remnants of the 31st RCT, known historically as Task Force Faith, began a fighting withdrawal to more defensible positions near Hagaru-ri, south of the reservoir. On Dec. 2, 1950, Reager was reported as missing in action.
In 1953, as part of a prisoner of war exchange, returning American soldiers who had been held as prisoners of war reported that Reager was not among the many men captured and held as prisoners. When no further information pertaining to Reager was provided, a military review board later amended Reager’s status to deceased.
From April 28 through May 10, 2004, a joint U.S./Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea excavated several secondary burial sites in the vicinity of the Pungnyu-ri inlet of the Chosin Reservoir, and recovered remains of possible U.S. servicemen who fought during the battles at the reservoir.
To identify Reager’s remains, scientists from 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 two cousins, and Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA (Y-STR) analysis, which matched his brother.
Today, more than 7,800 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using advances in 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.