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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 Cpl. Joseph Trepasso, 20, of Fulton, New York, will be buried Nov. 5 in his hometown. In late November 1950, Trepasso was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) attacked the regiment and forced the unit to withdraw south to the Pungnyuri Inlet. Many soldiers became surrounded and attempted to escape and evade the enemy, but were captured and marched to POW camps. Trepasso was subsequently declared missing in action as a result of the battle that occurred Dec. 12, 1950.
Trepasso’s name did not appear on any POW list provided by the CPVF or the Korean People’s Army. In 1951, the Army received information that Trepasso was killed in action Dec. 1, 1950. Based on this information, a military review board amended his status to deceased Dec. 1, 1950.
In September 2001, a U.S. and Korean People’s Army recovery team conducted a Joint Recovery Operation in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, Changjin County, Changjin District, South Hamgyong Province, North Korea, based on information provided by two Korean witnesses. During the excavation, the team recovered material evidence and possible human remains for at least seven individuals.
To identify Trepasso’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched a brother and nephew, as well as anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,786 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.