Soldier Missing From Korean War Accounted For (Nava)

Release No: 16-051 July 28, 2016
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The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Chief Warrant Officer Adolphus Nava, 38, of Uniondale, New York, will be buried August 4, in Calverton, New York. In late 1950, Nava was a member of Battery B, 38th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, fighting the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) between the towns of Sinhung-dong and Kunu-Ri, North Korea. Their mission was part of a United Nations Command offensive to advance north to the Yalu River. On Nov. 29, the unit was in danger of being encircled and destroyed by the CPVF and were ordered to withdraw. In the escape route, termed “The Gauntlet,” units were overrun by aggressive attacks from the CPVF, and Nava’s unit elected to destroy its guns and escape through the mountains on foot.

For more than a week after the battle, soldiers made their way through enemy lines back to their units. After searching all adjacent units, aid stations and hospitals, Nava was declared missing in action as of Nov. 30.

At the end of the war, during Operation Big Switch, where both sides exchanged all remaining POWs, repatriated Americans provided information on the capture and death of Nava at Pyoktong/Camp 5, where most prisoners of war from the unit were held.

Although the American Graves Registration Service hoped to recover the remains of United Nations Command (UNC) and American soldiers who remained north of the DMZ after the war, conflict between the UNC and North Korea complicated efforts.

Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned to the United States 208 boxes of commingled human remains, which when combined with remains recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea between 1996 and 2005, included the remains of at least 600 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents included in the repatriation indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where Nava was believed to have died.

To identify Nava’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial, Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat and autosomal DNA analysis, which matched his brother and daughter, as well as chest radiograph comparison and anthropological analyses, and circumstantial evidence

Today, 7,807 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery 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.