Dec. 13, 2016 —
Army Cpl. James T. Mainhart, missing from the Korean War, has now been accounted for.
In late November 1950, Mainhart was a member of Company I, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was engaged by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. By Dec. 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured or killed in enemy territory. Because Mainhart could not be accounted for by his unit at the end of the battle, he was reported missing in action as of Nov. 30, 1950.
Mainhart’s name did not appear on any prisoner of war lists and no repatriated Americans were able to provide any information concerning Mainhart as a prisoner of war. Due to the prolonged lack of evidence, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Nov. 30, 1950.
Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service hoped to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Mainhart’s remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable.
In September and October 2004, personnel from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (now DPAA), conducted the 36th Joint Recovery Operation with the Korean People’s Army in the vicinity of the Chosin River. During the mission, a witness statement reported that remains believed to be American had been found and reburied. Recovery Team 2 found a site that contained material evidence and possible remains of at least five individuals.
DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence were used in the identification of his remains.
Interment services are pending.