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News | Sept. 28, 2018

DPAA returns 64 sets of remains to the Republic of Korea

By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mikaley Kline

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) held a repatriation ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Sept. 27, 2018.
The ceremony honored 64 fallen South Korean service members who fought during the Korean War. The 64 sets of remains were from the DPAA Korean Project, which includes remains unilaterally turned over by North Korea between 1990 to 1994 and recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea between 1996 and 2005. It is the largest transfer of remains between the two countries since the Armistice Agreement of 1953.

Republic of Korea Vice-Minister of National Defense Mr. Choo Suk Suh, was the senior official in attendance on behalf of the Republic of Korea to accept and repatriate the remains.

“At this moment, I would like to extend a special thank you to the United States’ government and DPAA for their relentless dedication and endless efforts to return the remains of Republic of Koreas’ soldiers,” said Suh. “The Republic of Korea (ROK) will remember not only its own soldiers who have died heroically, but also the heroes of the United Nations sending states, including the United States, because they have fought side by side with us.”

The remains were analyzed jointly by the DPAA laboratory and scientists with the Republic of Korea's Ministry of National Defense Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification (MAKRI). Working cooperatively, they concluded that the 64 individual remains are of South Korean origin, though the remains haven’t been individually identified.

DPAA Deputy Director Rear Adm. Jon Kreitz thanked those in attendance and highlighted the close working relationship between DPAA and MAKRI, the agency’s counterpart organization in the Republic of Korea.

“We are here today because of the strong partnership and sustained cooperation between DPAA and MAKRI,” said Kreitz. “As the Republic of Korea and the United States continue to work together, may there be many more repatriation ceremonies and many more answers for all of our families, as we each endeavor to fulfill our nation’s promise.”

The flag-draped transfer cases that contain the remains were placed on a Korea Air Force C-130 aircraft and returned to South Korea on Thursday night.

Before Thursday’s ceremony, since 2012, the U.S. had returned 27 sets of South Korean remains to the ROK.

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