Hundreds of Korean soldier remains to return home some 70 years later

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Updated: Jun. 22, 2020 at 6:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The remains of 147 South Korean soldiers will be returned some 70 years after the men left their homes to fight alongside U.S. forces in the Korean War.

"This is historic," said Rear Admiral Darius Banaji, Deputy Director of Operations at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. "This is the largest transfer of repatriation remains from the USA to the Republic of Korea."

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s (DPAA) been working to identify the soldiers for years, some since the early 90′s, and the agency received more remains after President Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018.

"We've done DNA testing on all of these remains," said DPAA Laboratory Director Dr. John Byrd. "We're also using some newer forensic methods called stable isotope analysis, and that's a method that doesn't determine your identity, but what does is actually determine where you're from."

The DPAA says South Korea has already been able to identify seven sets of remains and they'll soon be returned to their families.

"It's a great honor to us to be able to help our allies in South Korea return these heroes back to their home," said Byrd.

South Korea's Vice Defense Minister will be in Hawaii to accept all of the remains. They've been painstakingly packaged into 147 boxes.

“This will make 239 total remains that we repatriated, but this 147 is the largest. And I’ll tell you, it’s bigger than DPAA. This is monumental for our two countries, our relationships, our alliance, and the promise that we would never forget these fallen soldiers,” said Banaji.

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