Remains of 64 Korean soldiers given repatriation ceremony in the Republic of Korea
Nearly 70 years after the Korean war broke out, the remains of 64 Korean soldiers were escorted home to be honored at a repatriation ceremony on Monday.
The U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency relinquished the remains of the soldiers to Suh Choo-suk the Vice Defense Minister of the Republic of Korean on Friday. The Korean Air Force transported the remains from Hawaii aboard a C-130 with an escort fleet comprised of F-15K’s and FA-50’s. The aircraft safely arrived Sunday afternoon at the Seoul Air Base in Seongnam.
The repatriation ceremony was presided by President Moon Jae-in with government officials and religious leaders attending. High ranking military personnel from both Korea and the United States were also in attendance, which included Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and Commander of the United States Forces Korea, General Vincent Brooks.
Korean War veteran Jeong Il-gwon commented that it was “a relief that my comrades who fought together at the Changjin Lake Battle have now returned home and will be laid to rest in their fatherland, I hope that the excavation of the remains in not only the Demilitarized Zone but also other North Korean regions will begin quickly.”
The remains were found during a joint excavation project that began in 1996 and ended in 2005. The project, which was conducted between the DPRK and United States sought to locate remains in major war zones from the Korean war, such as the South Hamgyong Province. Once recovered they were returned to the United States earlier this year where a joint forensic investigation was conducted on them.
It is expected that the defense ministry’s Agency of Killed In Action Recovery & Identification will begin the process of identifying their war heros and deliver the remains to their families.
The DPRK and the Republic of Korea are planning to conduct a joint operation in 2019 to retrieve troop remains from the Demilitarized Zone following agreements to remove landmines and explosives within it later this year.