Remains believed to be those of eight American soldiers, missing in action from the Korean War, will be repatriated in formal ceremonies Saturday, Korea time. This repatriation marks the end of this year's operations.
The remains will be flown on a U.S. Air Force aircraft from Pyongyang, North Korea, under escort of a uniformed U.S. honor guard to Yokota Air Base, Japan, where a United Nations Command repatriation ceremony will be held.
Operating near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, a joint team recovered five remains believed to be those of U.S. Army soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division who fought against Chinese forces Nov.-Dec. 1950. Approximately 1,000 MIAs are estimated to have been lost in battles of the Chosin campaign.
Additionally, a second team recovered three sets of remains in Unsan and Kujang counties and along the Chong Chon River, about 60 miles north of Pyongyang. The area was the site of battles between Communist forces and the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division, and 2nd and 25th Infantry Divisions in November 1950. The Defense Department's POW/Missing Personnel Office negotiated an agreement with the North Koreans last year that led to the scheduling of this year's operations.
The 28-person U.S. teams are composed primarily of specialists from the Army's Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI).
This year's schedule of operations in North Korea was the largest since they began five years ago, with 10 individual operations conducted near the Chosin Reservoir, as well as in the Unsan, Kujang and Kaechon City areas.
Twenty-seven individual joint operations have been conducted since 1996 in North Korea, recovering 152 sets of remains believed to be those of U.S. soldiers. Ten have been positively identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors. Another 12 are in the final stages of the forensic identification process.