The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He is U.S. Army Sgt. Harry J. Laurence of Cleveland, Ohio. He will be buried April 9 in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
Representatives from the Army met with Laurence’s next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process, and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the secretary of the Army.
Laurence was a member of L Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, then making up the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), 7th Infantry Division. The team was engaged against the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, from Nov. 27-Dec. 11, 1950. The unit was forced to retreat to the south due to intense enemy fire. Laurence was among many soldiers reported missing in action.
In 2001, joint U.S. and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), conducted two excavations of a mass grave near the Chosin Reservoir. The site correlates closely with defensive positions held by the 31st RCT at the time of the Chinese attacks. The teams recovered remains believed to be those of 11 U.S. servicemen. Analysis of the remains subsequently led to the identifications of three individuals, including Laurence.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC also used dental comparisons in Laurence’s identification.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.