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Military searches for Korean War, Cold War families

April 12, 1999

Air Force Seeks Families of Korean War Unaccounted-For

Source: Thomas R. Perry, Chief, Missing Persons Branch

Department of the Air Force
HQ AFPC/DPWCM, 550 C St. West St 15
Randolph AFB TX 78150-4717

The Department of Defense and the four military services are mounting an intense public outreach effort to locate family members of servicemen who remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. According to Tom Perry, Chief of the Air Force Missing Persons Branch, "We have begun to open some doors in North Korea, and we need to reestablish contact with the families of our unaccounted-for servicemen."

As a result of two negotiated agreements, the US has conducted four joint operations inside North Korea during 1996 and 1997 to seek answers and to locate and recover the remains of US servicemen lost during the Korean War.

In the four operations, the remains of what are believed to be seven American soldiers have been recovered. One has already been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Perry added, "As we're able to obtain additional circumstance of loss information or recover remains from North Korea, we'll need to inform the families. Unfortunately, in some cases nearly 45 years elapsed since the Air Force has had contact with many of our families. We need to know who the primary next-of-kin is to aid in future identifications. We'd welcome any lead family members can give us."

Family members of any unaccounted for Korea-era servicemen are asked to provide their name, address and relationship of their loved one as soon as possible to the appropriate service casualty office.

Air Force families can call toll-free (800)531-5501 or write by electronic mail via the Internet [email protected].
The Army's toll free number is (800)892-2490
The Navy number is (800)443-9298
The Marine Corps's number is (800)847-1597
Each of the services has compiled a partial list of Korean War family contacts, but with more than 8,100 unaccounted-for servicemen from the war (more than 900 Air Force servicemen), the task is extremely difficult considering the time elapsed since the cease-fire in Korea.

"We've been using the Internet and any other technology we could acquire," Perry said. "But we believe the most effective way to find these families is by word-of-mouth through veterans, family, active duty and retired military organizations. That's why we're pushing hard to 'get the word out' in many different ways. We hope our ongoing efforts in North Korea will result in bringing closure to families who have sacrificed so much for so long."

Military searches for Korean War, Cold War families

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Department of Defense and the four military services are expanding their intensive public outreach efforts to locate family members of Korean War and Cold War servicemen who are unaccounted for from those conflicts. Contact has been lost with many families since the cessation of hostilities in Korea in 1953.

The DOD still seeks to account for more than 8,100 servicemen from the Korean War and another 130 from Cold War aircraft shootdowns. As a result of several negotiated agreements, the United States has located and recovered in the past two years the remains of what is believed to be seven U. S. servicemen lost during the Korean War. One has already been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Specialists from the U. S. Army Central Identification Laboratory and the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office conducted four joint recovery operations in North Korea during 1996 and 1997.

The first of five scheduled 1998 recovery operations in North Korea began in June. Each will last approximately 25 days and the last operation will end in October.

Besides remains-recovery operations, North Korean officials have agreed to a second archival review by U. S. specialists in 1998. Last year, a weeklong research effort in the People's Liberation Museum in Pyongyang located documents which may be related to U. S. servicemen. As those documents are correlated to specific individuals, they are being provided by the military services to known Korean War families.

The expanded outreach effort is to accomplish several goals. First, family member reference blood samples are needed to compare to mitochondrial DNA sequences from recovered skeletal remains. Second, family members often possess personal or wartime documents that may aid in identifying an unaccounted-for serviceman. Finally, the military services are seeking to keep family members updated on specific recovery operations and if remains are recovered and identified, families will be asked to make decisions regarding the burial of the serviceman.

Beyond the Korean War outreach effort, families of Cold War unaccounted-for servicemen are also being sought. Through the work of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs, the remains of two American servicemen shot down during the Cold War have been recovered and identified.

Each of the services has established a toll-free number to keep these families fully informed on Korean War and Cold War remains recovery operations. Family members of these servicemen should contact the appropriate service casualty office to provide name, address, and relationship to their loved one.

If the missing serviceman was in the:

Air Force

(800) 892-2490

(800) 443-9298

Marine Corps
(800) 847-1597