The Department of 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 Cpl. Ronald M. Sparks, 19, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, will be buried August 19 in Everett, Massachusetts. On Feb. 12, 1951, Sparks was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, when his unit was clearing a road block held by enemy forces in the vicinity of Hoengsong, South Korea. Sparks was reported missing in action during the mission.
A repatriated American POW reported that Sparks died while in captivity at POW Camp 1, Changsong, North Korea, on May 26, 1951. Based on this information, a military review board amended his status to deceased.
In 1954, United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called “Operation Glory.” All remains recovered in Operation Glory were turned over to the Army’s Central Identification Unit for analysis. The remains they were unable to identify were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, known as the “Punchbowl.”
In 1999, due to advances in technology, the Department of Defense began to re-examine records and concluded that the possibility for identification of some of these unknowns now existed. The remains designated X-14082 were exhumed on Dec. 7, 2015, so further analysis could be conducted.
In the identification of Sparks’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analyses, which matched Sparks’ records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,802 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 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.