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Friday, July 22, 2005

Korean War Missing In Action Serviceman Identified

Echo9er Blog is very happy to to post this "Good News!" story.

After 54 years the Family, Friends, and Comrades of Cpl. Leslie R. Heath, of Bridgeport, Ill can finally close this chapter of their lives and open another. His internment is scheduled for August 20th.

On April 23, 1951, he and many in his unit were captured by the Chinese Comunists. They were held in a POW camp and witness recounted that CPL Heath died while he was held captive.

Welcome home CPL Heath. May God bless you and your families, friends and comrades.

Following is the DoD Release.

July 22, 2005
DoD Release # 750-05

Korean War Missing In Action Serviceman Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

He is Cpl. Leslie R. Heath, of Bridgeport, Ill. His interment is scheduled for Aug. 20 in Bridgeport.

On the morning of April 23, 1951, Heath and more than 80 members of ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Regimental Combat Team were captured by Chinese Communist forces. They were held in a temporary POW camp known as Suan Camp Complex, in North Hwanghae Province, North Korea. A former American POW who was returned to the U.S. through Operation Little Switch recounted that Heath died in June 1951 while imprisoned.

On July 16, 1993, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea returned 17 boxes of remains to the United States from the Korean War. One of the boxes contained remains of several individuals and two of Heath’s identification tags. Scientists of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) conducted years of forensic examinations of the remains and associated evidence until they made an identification two months ago.

Information provided by the North Koreans about the recovered remains was consistent with the approximate location where Heath was believed held captive and died. Artifacts in the boxes were those of a soldier in the U.S. Army infantry at the time of the war.

JPAC submitted skeletal remains on 11 occasions to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory for analysis. Heath’s mitochondrial DNA sequence matched that of two of his maternal relatives.

Of the 88,000 Americans unaccounted for from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and Desert Storm, more than 8,100 are from the Korean War. More than 2,000 of those were held as prisoners of war.

For additional information on the Department of Defense’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.