Thursday, September 25, 2014

Missing WWII & Korean War Soldiers Identified

Army Pfc. Bernard Gavrin of Brooklyn, New York, was buried on Sept. 12 in Arlington National Cemetery. On June 15, 1944, as part of an allied strategic goal to secure the Mariana Islands, U.S. forces were ordered to occupy Saipan. After a month of intense fighting, enemy forces conducted a suicide assault, known as a banzai attack. This was designed to inflict as many casualties as possible against the 105th Infantry Regiment (IR), 27th Infantry Division (ID). During these attacks, elements of the 105th IR sustained heavy losses, with more than 900 soldiers killed or injured. Gavrin was reported missing in action on July 7, 1944.

On July 8, 1945, with no new information concerning Gavrin or 21 other service members of the 105th IR, investigators issued a presumptive finding of death. In November 1948, the American Graves Registration Services (AGRS) reviewed the circumstances of Gavrin's loss and concluded his remains were non-recoverable.

In Sept. 2013, several Japanese non-governmental organizations, with oversight from a private archaeological company, recovered human remains and personal effects belonging to American servicemen from an unmarked burial. The remains were turned over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).

In the identification of Gavrin's remains, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools including dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA, which matched Gavrin's nephew.


Army Pfc. Arthur Richardson, 28, of Fall River, Mass. was buried Sept. 18 in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C. In January 1951, Richardson and elements of Company A, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment (IR), 24th Infantry Division (ID), were deployed northeast of Seoul, South Korea, where they were attacked by enemy forces. During the attempt to delay the enemy forces from advancing, Richardson and his unit were moving towards a more defensible position, when his unit suffered heavy losses. It was during this attack that Richardson was reported missing.

When no further information pertaining to Richardson was received and he failed to return to U.S. control during prisoner exchanges, a military review board reviewed his status in 1954, and changed it from missing in action to presumed dead. In 1956, his remains were declared unrecoverable.

Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea turned over to the U.S. 208 boxes of human remains believed to contain more than 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents, turned over with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where Richardson was believed to have died.

In the identification of Richardson's remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and Armed Forces DNA Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, to include mitochondrial DNA, which matched his niece and grand-niece.

Today, 7,880 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams.