It was 1956. The war had been over for 3 years and family members had been asked not to discuss their still missing loved ones fate.. Why? Because secretly our Government knew a lot more than they were telling, and they couldn’t afford for the truth to come out!
Not only had our Government left over a thousand men behind alive in Communist prison camps, they also had done a poor job of identifying remains and shipping the wrong bodies home! The mistakes needed to go somewhere, so they buried them as unknowns in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punch Bowl) in Hawaii.
A few years ago, I acquired the forensic files on the unidentified remains, but more recently someone sent me the spreadsheet of the grave sites and their related unidentified X-files. All of a sudden, I had the potential to associate logical missing men with actual grave sites!! So here are some of my early findings.
Of the 848 Korean War unidentified remains in the Punch Bowl cemetery, more than half, 433, came through Operation Glory, an exchange of remains after the war. These remains arrived typically with names and service numbers attached to the box by the North Koreans. They were known Americans who died in prison camps. After double checking by the forensic team, these 433 were challenged and excluded from being the name on the casket, and buried as unknowns.
Even if the North Koreans accidentally mixed up the bodies, they somehow came across the name and service number somehow, so anyone with common sense would surmise that these names should be in the POW column, yet 35 of those excluded from the bodies remain MIA and KIA on DPAA’s lists.
Lewis Brickell was an MIA, even though Operation Glory remains N-14889 arrived in 1954 with his name on it. Forensics excluded him, so the family was never told. But, in 1999, they disinterred that same remains from grave 928, and miraculously confirmed it as . . . yes you guessed it . . . Lewis Brickell. That story can be repeated over and over again for William Butz, Richard Isbell, Anthony Massey, Arnold Olson, Frank Sandoval, Donald Walker, John Ward, Carl West . . . . and probably countless others. This same scenario occurs for remains recovered from the battlefields where men were identified, then excluded and families never told, then confirmed 60 years later. I’m sure the families of Nehemiah Butler, Richard Clapp, Norman Dufresne, James Constant, Bernard Fisher, Will Giovanniello, Lee Henry, Everett Johnson, Donald Matney, Robert Mitchell, James Mullins, Donald Skeens, Luis Torres, John Ward, Carl West, and Edris Viers, . . . would have jumped at the chance to help confirm or exclude the remains 60 years earlier.
So, back to shipping wrong bodies home. Grave 807 contains X-1404 unidentified remains, but it hasn’t always been that way. It was originally shipped home as Eugene Molinar . . . and only one person objected . . . Eugene, who came back alive. Only one missing person now actually fits the forensic criteria, Robert D Miller, but our government sees no need to disinter him.
Commonly, I find comments like “Operation Glory originally labeled remains N-14142 as ‘Reginal Smith’, but his previously identified(?) remains were already returned to his family.” This makes one wonder if the previous identification was accurate. If not, the cemetery is full of mistakes. At least 28 remains share this comment.
Louis Mutta was driving a jeep when it was hit and exploded. His fellow servicemen put him in an abandoned building with the intent to recover him after the incoming attack. The building burned, but there was only one body inside, obviously Mutta. Yet our government wouldn’t assume the obvious, and then buried him as unknown in grave 356. It’s about time to get him back to his family.
When evidence reduces candidacy down to one person, there should be no excuse to procrastinate. Yet in 116 cases, only one person is logical and they continue their 60 year long wait for someone to care!
If you have a relative missing from the Korean War, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 770-565-4420.
(Editor's note: X-Files are the collected information on unidentified remains of American servicemen returned following the Korean War and buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific [Punchbowl/Hawaii]. Each set of remains has an X-File number.)
For the past two years, my articles have been mostly about unidentified remains files acquired by John Eakin and generously shared with us. Recently, Eakin found some more from the lab in Yokohama, and here is what we have learned.
The first 10 files were about Mongoloid remains and were assumed to be Korean.
The next 15 were remarkably detailed and surfaced some surprising info on individuals, mostly American.
X-6366 was shipped to the National Cemetery in Hawaii on March 30, 1963, as an unknown, but this is what they actually knew. The Caucasian remains was found near Naepyong-ni DS087909 Mul-gol Kari-San. About 85% of the bones were recovered. Though dozens of missing men were considered from 38th and 9th regiments who were in that area, three compelling pieces of evidence were found with the remains . . . the dogtags of John Shay, Gerald Crippen, and Larence Monn. The science team couldn’t find info on Crippen . . . even though he was awarded the prisoner of war medal for being captured March 15, 1951. But, being a POW places him away from the site where the body was found. Oddly, Larence D Monn does not show up in any obvious Korean War records. However, John B Shay was with the 9th infantry and went missing May 19, 1951 and matches the dental info of this remains. Yet, he was buried as unknown!
X-6367 was found next to X-6366 (above). Logic would lead most of us to suspect the same individuals considered for the 6366 remains. The bones indicated that the man was about 5’-3” tall and the only man missing from that area and that short was . . . Edward Carico. Yet, he was buried as an unknown.
X-6369 was found near Taejon-ni CT327085. Later it was determined to be a comingling of two Caucasian remains. A dogtag imprinted Howard A Morgan US51024548 and a helmet with “Morgan” painted on it were also found. Yes Morgan was with 7th regiment who went missing April 25, 1951 in that area and among 20 of unrecovered men. The head was missing so dental comparison was not possible. He was buried as an unknown. I wonder, “Was the family notified that Morgan’s dog tags and helmet were found with the remains?”
X-6370 is a co-mingling of 3 men found near Sonjong-ni SK at DQ008481. Two were Caucasian; one was Asiatic Mongoloid. ID tags for Frank Di Pino RA11165706 and Harold Cutlip RA15014310 were found with the Caucasian remains. Frank went missing 7/29/1950 from the 34th regiment and is still unaccounted-for. Harold Cutlip supposedly died on 7/29/1950 and his remains were supposedly shipped home to his family . . . hopefully it was this X-6370 remains . . . or our government has some explaining to do.
X-6377 was shipped to Hawaii 11/12/1965. Average size, average muscularity, medium skull, Caucasian. Included two dog tags of Carlos Bidopia US 44192659. Buried as unknown. I wish I had contact info for the family of Carlos Bidopia (MIA 5/17/1951) from Dade County FL. They may wish to know that Carlos is probably in a Hawaiian cemetery.
X-6378 came from Kawan-Do CT771238. Negroid Race. The only personal item with the remains was a wedding ring inscribed “From FJ to AF”. Four non-recovered men match the initials AF, but all were single. Five “AF”s from the area have been identified, but only one was married, Alflorence Flowers, who died of wounds in a hospital and his body returned. But, maybe, a soldier gave the ring to another soldier when he was wounded and asked him to return it to his wife with a personal message. Who knows? There are 10 unresolved Negro cases who were MIA or KIA in that area and not enough obvious evidence to associate. So why can’t we dig it up and test it for DNA?
On April 27, 1966 a Korean, was using a metal detector, found remains X-6379 . . . with dog tags of Vincent Vega RA16324985 who became “Missing-in-Action” 7/5/1950. The remains was still buried at NMCP as an unknown. Fortunately, I had a family contact so I sent this info to his niece. But, the email was rejected as non-deliverable and the phone inbox was full! This usually indicates a deceased family member.
On 9/16/2005, Michael Flowers of JPAC sent a letter to the Director of the cemetery in Hawaii stating “the remains (X-6385) are believed to be associated with the May 23,1951 loss of Army PFC Albert Edwards Atkins.” Yet the DPAA website still has Atkins as unaccounted-for. What is taking so long?
With all of the obvious cases, it makes one wonder why DPAA is not meeting their mandate of 200 identities each year.
If you have a missing loved-one from the Korean War, please give me a call at 770-565-4420 or email me at email@example.com. You will be amazed at all of the known information on each of these men that has not been shared with the families!