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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 Sgt. 1st Class James P. Shunney, 19, of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, will be buried Oct. 14 in Blackstone, Massachusetts. In early November 1950, Shunney was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, near Unsan, North Korea, when Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) attacked the regiment and forced the unit to withdraw. Many soldiers became surrounded and attempted to escape and evade the enemy, but were captured and marched to POW camps. Shunney was declared missing in action as a result of the battle that occurred Nov. 2, 1950.
In 1953, during the prisoner of war exchange historically known as “Operation Big Switch,” repatriated American soldiers had no information on Shunney’s fate. His name did not appear on any POW list provided by the CPVF or the Korean People’s Army. Based on this information, a military review board amended Shunney’s status to deceased in 1953.
Between September and October 2000, personnel from the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory-Hawaii and members of the KPA participated in a Joint Recovery Operation in Korea. The recovery element began excavation operations of an alleged mass grave south of an area known as “The Camel’s Head Bend,” which may have been associated with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry’s battle. Human remains of at least five individuals were recovered, although it was later determined that the remains likely originated from an unknown location. The remains were accessioned into the laboratory, and analysis later identified four of the sets as service members from Shunney’s unit, or another unit that had been with them during the battle.
To identify Shunney’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used forensic and dental analysis, which matched Shunney’s records; as well as circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,789 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.