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 Pvt. Virgil B. Adkins, 21, of Hinton, West Virginia, will be buried Sept. 3 in Hinton, West Virginia. On July 17, 1953, Adkins was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, on a combat patrol to reconnoiter enemy activity in an area north of the former Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), North Korea, when it came under attack, forcing a withdrawal back to friendly lines. As a result of the fighting, Adkins was reported missing in action.
Following Operation Big Switch, where American prisoners of war were returned, the Army Forces Far East reported evidence of the death of Adkins on July 17, 1953, although his remains were not returned during Operation Glory in 1954. Based on the lack of information regarding Adkins, the U.S. Army declared him deceased.
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 Adkins was believed to have died.
To identify Adkins’ 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 sister, as well as anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,802 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, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa/ or call (703) 699-1420.