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First two US veterans identified from North Korean remains

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command conduct an honorable carry ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPH-H), Hawaii, Aug. 1, 2018. (Senior Airman Apryl Hall/U.S. Air Force)
September 21, 2018

The first two United States service members have been identified from remains repatriated from North Korea.

In a tweet Thursday, President Trump announced the names of Army Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel of Vernon, Ind., who was 32, and Army Pfc. William H. Jones of Nash County, N.C., who was 19, as the first two identified soldiers, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“These HEROES are home, they may Rest In Peace, and hopefully their families can have closure,” Trump tweeted.

Both soldiers were reported missing in November 1950.

Their families were notified earlier in the week, and are expected to be present at a National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony on Friday, to be held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

The two service members were among remains in 55 cases transferred from North Korea to the U.S. a few weeks ago.

Each box is said to contain multiple remains, between “three and 18 sets of remains” per box.

The repatriation of Korean War remains was one of the topics agreed upon by President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at their June 12 summit in Singapore.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which is in charge of the identification process, said the two soldiers’ remains contained dental material, making them easiest to identify. Dental records, X-rays and DNA samples were used in the identification process.

McDaniel’s remains also included his dog tags, which were returned to his two sons. It was the only set of dogs tags returned with the remains.

McDaniel was an 8th Cavalry Regiment Medical Company medic who assisted the 3rd Battalion of the same regiment. His unit encountered Chinese forces while fighting in a North Korean village. He was reported missing in action shortly after on Nov. 2, 1950.

Jones served in the 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. His unit battled Chinese forces in the area of Pakchon, North Korea, and he was reported missing Nov. 26, 1950.

The 55 cases containing the remains were handed over to the U.S. on July 27, a day coinciding with the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. They underwent a two-day forensic review process at Osan Air Base in South Korea before transfer to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. An official repatriation ceremony was held Aug. 1.

Approximately 7,600 U.S. personnel remain unaccounted for after the Korean War, with some 5,300 believed to be lost in North Korea. Families of some 92 percent of those missing personnel have provided DNA samples for their hopeful and eventual identification.