The Department of Defense announced that U.S. and North Korean specialists began preliminary work today in North Korea to prepare to recover the remains of Americans missing in action from the Korean War.
For the first time since these operations began in 1996, supplies and equipment were transported across the demilitarized zone to U.S. recovery teams. This arrangement was made through negotiations led by the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office in February. And, for the first time since 1999, U.S. remains, accompanied by recovery team members, will return across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the end of each operation.
In late 2003, U.S. and North Korean negotiators scheduled five operations for 2004 in Unsan County and near the Chosin Reservoir, both sites of major battles and heavy losses of U.S. servicemen.
This marks the ninth consecutive year that U.S. teams have operated inside North Korea, bringing home some remains of the more than 8,100 soldiers missing in action from the war. Specialists from the Joint POW/MIA AccountingCommand have recovered more than 180 remains since 1996 in 27 separate operations. This year, the recovery work will be split between the two sites for a schedule that will extend between April and October. Twenty-eight U.S. team members will join with their North Korean counterparts for each of these approximately 30-day operations.
More than 88,000 Americans are missing in action from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and Desert Storm.