The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, killed during the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Cpl. Eldon W. Ervin, 21, of Wyandotte, Oklahoma, will be buried March 29 in Seneca, Missouri. On Nov. 27, 1950, Ervin was assigned to Headquarter Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,600 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT). 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.
Following the attack, a soldier saw Ervin die as a result of shrapnel wounds. As the unit withdrew from the area, only wounded soldiers were evacuated. The U.S. Army issued a report of death for Ervin with a date of Nov. 28, 1950.
Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service hoped to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Ervin’s remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable.
During the 21st Joint Recovery Operation in 2001, recovery teams conducted operations on the eastern bank of the Chosin Reservoir, Changjin County, North Korea, within one kilometer of where Ervin was reported killed in action. At least seven individuals were recovered and returned to the laboratory for processing.
To identify Ervin’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial and anthropological evidence, as well as DNA analysis; including mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA analysis and autosomal STR analysis, which matched two sisters and a brother.
Today, 7,820 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.