Korean War Missing DNA Project

PFC Joseph Elmore Returns Home 

PFC Elmore 2.jpg
In 2018, Gov. Matt Bevin recognized the sacrifice of a Kentucky soldier who died in the Korean War, but whose remains hade just been positively identified and were in the process of being returned to his family in Bowling Green.

Private First Class Joe Stanton Elmore, 20, died on December 2, 1950 in Changjim County, Hamgyeong Province, North Korea. A member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, PFC Elmore was one of approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 Republic of Korea soldiers assigned to the 31st Regimental Combat Team, also known as Task Force MacLean and later as Task Force Faith. PFC Elmore was reported missing on December 2, 1950, following an engagement that occurred in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir.

The return home of PFC Elmore’s remains is the culmination of a 23-year-long effort to identify remains first repatriated by the People’s Republic of Korea in 1995. The identification of repatriated remains often requires years, if not decades, of detailed examination and meticulous forensic analysis. 

There are 207 Kentuckians whose bodies have not been returned from the Korean War.  Seventeen of those have been accounted for, but 190 have not.  For almost 20 years, KDVA has assisted the DOD POW/MIA office in locating family members of these missing in an effort to obtain DNA samples that will be very helpful in identifying remains as they are found and returned to the US. We have located many family members, but are still looking for family members of three.
See a list of the three missing Kentucky service members for whom we are still looking for family members willing to provide DNA samples.
Email us if you know of any family members of those still missing.

PFC Charles Anderson Williams 
In 2004, DNA from family members helped to identify the remains of PFC Charles Anderson Williams of Carlisle, Kentucky.

PFC Williams, who was killed in action in Korea in 1950, was buried in Carlisle with full military honors. 
 Flag presented to PFC Williams' brother at the interment of repatriated remains.
His brother and nephew received the flag from his casket.



 How the Missing DNA Project Works 

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO) has primary responsibility for the mission.  They have many partners in this effort…one is Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).  JPAC works on locating and identifying remains.  Other partners are casualty/repatriation offices from each of the Armed Services (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard), the Department of State and the CIA.  Also, State Departments of Veterans Affairs like ours (Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs) are out here trying to find families for whom JPAC needs a DNA sample.
There are 190 Kentuckians still missing from Korea.  Of that number there are 3 for whom there is still no DNA on file.  KDVA has helped find some of the family members who supplied DNA for 157 of the missing, but some families discovered the project from other sources.  While we had a lot of success when the program began in 2001, as time goes on it is becoming increasingly difficult to find these families.  As of January 2014, it had been several years since we were able to locate any of them.
When we locate a family member of one of those for whom there is no DNA on file we generally contact the appropriate repatriation office (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard).  They make arrangements with the family to capture the DNA and have it forwarded to JPAC.  Then when remains are located they are able to use the DNA for positive identification.  
JPAC uses Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) unlike most DNA applications (paternity cases, criminal investigations, etc.) which use nuclear DNA.  mtDNA is only passed on through the mother’s side, so not every family member is a potential donor.  The maternal line link will show you a chart of who can donate mtDNA.
We need your help getting the word out so we can find these remaining families…while there is still time.  When the potential donors pass away, we’ve lost this opportunity.

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