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Korean War soldier’s remains identified after more than seven decades

After 72 years, the remains of an American soldier who died in the Korean War have been identified. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency confirmed the remains of a soldier to be Army Cpl. Tommie T. Hanks, part of the 25th Infantry Division, reported missing November 1950. He is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Hanks joined the Army in Georgia and served as a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, 8th Army. In late 1950 his unit was near Anju, North Korea when it was attacked. He went missing during battle and was officially declared missing on November 26. He was 27 years old. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reports that there is no evidence Hanks was ever a prisoner of war, and his remains were not returned after a truce was declared in the war.

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He left a wife, Laura, and three children, according to a contemporary newspaper report. Hanks has been reported missing for more than three years. The same article noted that the Department of Defense officially pronounced him dead on December 31, 1953. In 1956, the Department of Defense said his remains were “unrecoverable.”

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is the arm of the Department of Defense that works to identify the remains of deceased military personnel, even when wars are decades ago. According to the agency, more than 80,000 soldiers are missing from conflict operations in the 20th century. Earlier this year, the agency obtained the possible remains of an airman who went missing in Thailand in 1944. The DPAA announced the confirmed identification of Hanks’ remains before Veterans Day Weekend.

The DPAA used a combination of DNA analysis, anthropological work, and other evidence to confirm the remains were Hanks.

Hanks’ remains were contained in 55 boxes believed to contain the bodies of American soldiers killed in the Korean War. Those boxes were repatriated to the United States in August 2018 following a deal between the United States and North Korea in June of that year. The DPAA began identifying the dead shortly after the boxes arrived in the United States.

Hanks is currently listed in the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with other Korean War soldiers who are still missing. Now that his remains have been found and identified, his marker will be updated with a rosette to reflect this.

No date has been set for his funeral.

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