WASHINGTON: Last Tuesday President Donald Trump told a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas city, that Korean War remains would now be coming home “very soon.” Very soon has come. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency says the remains will leave North Korea on Friday the 27th, the 65th anniversary of the Korean armistice agreement that resulted in a cease-fire to the 1950-53 war.
“North Korea recently took two truckloads of wooden boxes to be used for the remains repatriation. It’s expected to hand over the remains on July 27 as agreed upon,” a source told Yonhap.
U.S. Air Force transport aircraft has left North Korea with fallen soldiers
Yonhap reports that a U.S. Air Force transport aircraft left North Korea for the Kalma Airport carrying the remains of service members killed in the Korean War. The C-17 Globemaster left for Kalma Airport in the North’s eastern coastal city of Wonsan. From there the transport left for the Osan Air Base of the U.S. Forces Korea in Pyeongtaek, about 70 kilometers south of Seoul, South Korea. The transport vehicle was flanked by two fighter jet escorts.
Thousands of US military personnel who served in the Korean War remain unaccounted for. Most of the missing, some 5,300 according toe US defence agency reports, were lost in what is now North Korea. The US Army says it knows exactly where many are buried.
Remains of soldiers are believed to be in:
- Prisoner of war camps where many perished during the winter of 1950
- The sites of major battles, such as the areas around Unsan and Chongchon in the north-west of the country – said to contain approximately 1,600 dead
- Temporary UN military cemeteries – China and North Korea returned about 3,000 dead Americans in an effort called Operation Glory in 1954, but others remain
- The demilitarised zone that separates North and South Korea – said to contain 1,000 bodies
The Korean War fighting stopped in 1953, however North and South Korea are still, technically at war. The conflict ending armistice agreement they signed is not a peace treaty. In addition to U.S. dead, various estimates say that the war also killed t at least two million Korean civilians. Also killed were up to 1.5 million communist and about 400,000 South Korean. 30,000 US and 1,000 UK service personnel are believed to have died.
The U.S. did not reveal the number of remains being returned now. Wooden boxes bearing an estimated 55 sets of remain, have been sitting for weeks in the border village of Panmunjom. The Defense POW (Prisoners of War)/MIA (Missing in Action) Accounting Agency is expected to inspect the remains again and hold a formal repatriation ceremony next Wednesday. The remains will then be sent to a forensic lab in Hawaii, Yonhap reports. Identification of the remains will be in a forensic lab in Hawaii.
The repatriation is one of the June 12 summit agreement reached between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The two leaders met in a quest to build new relations and create a “lasting and stable” peace including the complete denuclearization of the peninsula.
A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III T-1 flies over Owens Valley, California, for a test sortie. Edwards Air Force Base, California, welcomed home the aircraft after 208 days of life-extension modifications in San Antonio, Texas. The T-1 is the first Air Force C-17 built to perform developmental testing. (By U.S. Air Force - https://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce/6211172589/in/photostream/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16886172)