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Remains of US soldier killed in Korean War returns to Bay Area

U.S. Army pallbearers carry the casket of Korean War soldier Pvt. James J. Leonard as it arrives at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2017. Leonard, 22, was killed in action near the village of Yongdong, South Korea, on July 25, 1950. (Photo courtesy of USO)

The remains of a 22-year-old U.S. soldier who was killed in 1950 during the Korean War returned home to San Francisco on Sunday morning, according to the United Service Organizations’ Bay Area chapter.

Army Pfc. James J. Leonard, Jr., went missing in July 1950, but his remains weren’t found until 2017. A construction crew discovered them during a road excavation near Yongdong village in South Korea, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced last week.

By analyzing the body’s dental records and using other clues, that agency identified Leonard’s remains.

“We were shocked and amazed,” Madeline Hart of Pacifica, who is related to Leonard, told KTVU Fox last week. “After all these years, that he’d be found like that.”

Leonard is scheduled to be buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma on Tuesday, according to an obituary posted online.

USO Bay Area, which helps the U.S. military and their families, helped transfer the remains of Leonard, which arrived at San Francisco International Airport at around 11 a.m. on Sunday, said Mark Adams, the organization’s center operations supervisor.

Leonard attended Polytechnic High School in San Francisco and played the trumpet there before joining the Army.

In July 1950, Leonard and his regiment arrived east of Yongdong in South Korea. Battling with the U.S. Army, the Korean People’s Army took control of Yongdong on July 25 and Leonard was killed.

About 7,713 Americans who fought in the Korean War are still unaccounted for today, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.


© 2018 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.