Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Presumed American remains from Korea War head home

Presumed American remains from Korea War head home

A soldier carries a casket containing the remains of a USA soldier who was killed in the Korean War during a ceremony at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 27, 2018.

If John Kaakimaka's remains are ever identified, his family wants him to be buried in a cemetery at the base of Diamond Head crater in Honolulu because that's where his parents and brothers were laid to rest, Hanwell Kaakimaka said.

A C-17 containing remains of fallen service members departed Wonsan, North Korea, on Thursday Hawaii time headed to South Korea and accompanied by United Nations Command Korea officials and technical experts from the accounting agency to preliminarily examine the remains.

The North Koreans provided enough specifics about where each suspected body was found that US officials have matched them to specific battles fought from 1950 to 1951, though not necessarily individuals, he said. Experts say the North likely wants a declaration of the end of the Korean War as part of USA security assurances.

The North Koreans provided enough information about where each body was found to allow US officials to match them to battles fought between 1950 and 1951, Byrd said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a tour of Asian capitals this week, in part to urge countries to keep the sanctions pressure on North Korea in order to push the denuclearization process along.

The last time United States military men or women were on the ground to teach for remains was 2005.

The returned material also included military hardware and uniforms, including helmets, water bottles and boots, he said.

Of the roughly 7,700 missing USA service members from the Korean War, approximately 5,300 are believed to be on North Korean soil.

But even if he does, Sung-Yoon Lee, a Korea expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, was sceptical that there would be any fresh signs of progress when it came to denuclearisation.

The latest batch of 55 boxes of remains from North Korea has just been received, and appears to fit the historic pattern.

"There's no reason at this point to doubt that they do relate to Korean War losses", he added.

Decades after the end of the Korean War in 1953, the remains of dozens of presumed USA war dead were on their way Wednesday to Hawaii for analysis and identification.

The remains were handed over last week in the coastal city of Wonsan, North Korea, before they were flown back to an air base in South Korea.

The remains were first flown from the North Korean city of Wonsan last Friday, on the 65th anniversary of the armistice, and were greeted at Osan Air Base by hundreds of USA service personnel and their families.

Mattis said it was a "good question" as to why 55 sets of remains are coming home.

Mr Pompeo said last week that North Korea was continuing to produce fuel for nuclear bombs.

The remains may include UK casualties and the DNA samples will be used to support identification, over a number of years, to make sure any UK personnel identified are ultimately given military funerals at the United Nations cemetery in the Republic of Korea.

Denyer reported from Tokyo.

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