Previously missing Korean War Veteran finally laid to rest



Sixty six years after Army Pfc. Albert E. Atkins went missing during the Korean War, he was finally laid to rest with military honors.

On May 23, 1951, Atkins was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, when his unit was attacking enemy forces near Mae-Bong, South Korea. The regiment’s mission was to secure Hill 911. As the company prepared to assault the hill, Atkins and two other soldiers from his company were reported missing in action.

On Sept. 17, 1966, two South Koreans provided information regarding three side-by-side graves in the vicinity of Kwandra-ri, South Korea. A U.S. Army Graves Registration team recovered the remains and sent them to the Central Identification Unit in Yokohama, Japan for analysis. Two of the remains were individually identified as members of Atkins’ company, but the third set of remains, labeled X-6385, could not be identified and was interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

After a thorough historical and scientific analysis of information associated with remains X-6385 it was determined that the remains could likely be identified. After receipt of approval, the remains were disinterred from the NMCP on Nov. 1, 2005 and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

To identify Atkins’ remains, scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial  DNA analysis, involving next-generation sequencing, which matched his family, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and circumstantial evidence.

Today, 7,715 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams. Atkins’ name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.


Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s website. Read the original story here

Author

Melissa Heintz

– Melissa Heintz joined the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team as a public affairs specialist in October 2015. She grew up on an Army base in Japan before her family relocated to Hawaii. She holds a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications and Spanish from Seattle University. Melissa has served as a public affairs specialist with Navy Region Hawaii Fleet and Family Readiness and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In December 2015, Melissa commissioned in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where she serves as a public affairs officer with the 143rd Airlift Wing.

Comments

  1. Jeff    

    !so a veteran it is good to know that 66 years later the effort was still finished.

  2. KAREN E HOLCOMB    

    This is exactly the kind of news I love waking up to.

  3. Gene Stewart    

    How many of the 7,715 American Remains have been buried and never had this type of analysis process done on the remains buried in Hawaii like this American Soldier? Is it because this country does not want to run the type of test’s mentioned in this article, or does it cost to much to run them? I would hope the the US would go all out to try to identify our Soldiers of the Korean and any other war. The Veterans of America gave their lives for the country they served, so America should make sure that the remaining 7,715 MIA that remain unaccounted for be found and accounted for. If we show that our country doesn’t care about their soldiers, it will change the way people look at joining the service. POW/MIA’s is a passion of mine and we all need to help recover our missing veterans and never forget about them.
    Thank You. Gene USMC Vietnam 68/69

  4. Jose    

    Hi
    My Dad was Korean vet. He died some years ago. Im a vet myself. How can i get info o memorabillia about him
    Thanks

    1. Ulrich L. M. Austin    

      Good Morning Jose…. Go online to the Office of Military Records in St. Louis and fill out the request for Military Records. Ensure that you ask for his COMPLETE Military Personnel Records Jacket/File, a copy of his DD-214 (It will be included in his MPRJ – but if ordered separate, could be to you within 30 Days) as well as all Awards/Medals issued tot he Veteran. If the records were not burned in the great fire, you should get all of it within 6 -8 Month’s. You will get a return letter with a request number on it. With that number you can track the status of your request so don’t lose it. Best of Luck

  5. daniel y larios    

    blessed are the peace makers for there’s is the kingdom of Heaven

  6. frank sciannameo    

    This story brings back so many memories of my brother T/Sgt.Daniel Sciannameo killed on 11/2/1950 at an area near the Yalu River called Usan, N, Korea.
    He was listed as MIA , his remains were sent to National Cemetery 5years later.
    Sadly, I learned a few years ago that the forensic unit in Hawaii at that time frame did the best they could to properly ID
    Most likely the remains are NOT his as his unit was wiped out with no survivors.
    More importantly, the remains are buried in the USA and the sacrifice of this 22 yr.old will always be forever in our hearts, God Bless

  7. richard legault    

    Hi Melissa,
    Having served in Vietnam in 1970, I am touched by these successes in retreiving fallen comrades who were MIA from all wars. This proves that there is always some people who care about men and women in uniform who had and has the courage to put all at risk in defence of our freedom. In Nam we had a saying: “one has never lived till he has almost died, life has a flavour the protected will never know.”

    For your info I am a Canadian who in 1968 crossed the border to enlist in the US forces during the Vietnam conflict. It is said there were approx 35000 Canadians who volunteered to serve under the US Flag during the VN war. It is not known how many set foot in Vietnam during their enlistment but it is proven that 128 Canadians died in Vietnam during their tour.

    Keep writing these stories,

    Richard Legault

    1. Loren Dean    

      I served with a Brother that did what you described. Thanks to our “Neighbor to the North” !!

  8. Larry Fink    

    I am a Vietnam era Army vet, and had back then been assigned to a French NATO Nike Hercules missile site. As the 357th Arty Detachment., we were the “nuclear warhead team” for that Isolated missile site, in what was them West Germany.
    As a soldier, I believed that had I fallen into the hands of the Soviets, the full weight of the Army would be there for my returrn. The promise of “no man left behind” became hollow as we fled Vietnam leaving POWs and MIAs behind. That hollow promise became more evident when with the Benghazi slaughter under Obummer and crooked Hillary. It is no longer a hollow promise, but is simply a “joke” that now should be understood by member of our armed forces. Were we to engage the Chinese again in N Korea, we would simply leave more POWs and MIAs on that steep ground.

  9. Cheryl Bolden    

    Am glad for this family and am comforted that perhaps one day our loved one will come home also.

  10. SMsgt Lucia, USAF    

    I’m a retired USAF SMsgt. My wife and I have had Tricare health coverage for years under the US Family Health Care. We have always counted on the stability of premiums and out of pocket expenses for our health care. However, recently we experienced a significant increase in costs and I’m wondering why? For example, our co-pay for an office visit jumped from $12 to $30. At a time when the active military and retirees are receiving such appreciation for our devotion to service, this increase in our health costs drastically contradicts that theme and, for many of us, creates a significant financial hardship especially when health issues increase with age, as have ours. Very disappointing.

    1. Ulrich L. M. Austin    

      You can thank Obama for that mess, when sequestration came it, it cut retirees benefits, going forward dramatically… write your congressman, and write, and write, and write

  11. Andy Martel    

    I think it would have been good if the article had mentioned the soldier’s home town and state.

Comments are closed.