Remains of U.S. soldier killed in Korean War identified 72 years later
▶ Watch Video: Government lab faces challenges in identifying Korean War remains
The remains of a 27-year-old man killed during the Korean War have been accounted for 72 years after he was reported missing, the U.S. government announced this week.
U.S. Army Cpl. Tommie T. Hanks was reported missing in action on November 26, 1950 after his unit attempted to withdraw from a location in North Korea, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) said in a news release. His body was declared “non-recoverable” on Jan. 16, 1956, and his name was later recorded on the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The DPAA said Hanks’ remains were among the 55 boxes containing Korean War remains given to the United States in July 2018 by North Korea. The boxes were turned over after a summit between then-President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, and sent to a DPAA laboratory for identification.
The agency said the methods used to identify the remains included anthropological and isotope analysis and DNA analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence.
Hanks’ remains were accounted for on August 2, 2022.
Other recently identified remains include those of 19-year-old Massachusetts native Army Cpl. Joseph J. Puopolo and 19-year-old Arizona man Pvt. Felix M. Yanez. The remains of both men were also accounted for this past summer.
Now that Hanks’ remains have been accounted for, a rosette will be placed beside his name at the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Courts of the Missing. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Since 1982, the remains of over 450 Americans killed in the Korean War have been identified by the DPAA. Bodies identified by the agency are returned to families with full military honors.
According to the agency, over 7,600 Americans who were killed in the war are still unaccounted for. “Hundreds” of those remains are classified as “non-recoverable.”
The Korean War is considered the deadliest conflict of the Cold War era, according to the DPAA, with the United States suffering approximately 36,500 casualties. That number is more than 90% of non-Korean U.N. losses.