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U.S. announces 7 POWs who died in World War II, 9 soldiers killed in Korea have been accounted for

Military labs identify fallen soldiers
Military labs identify long-fallen soldiers 02:54

Sixteen soldiers who died in World War II and the Korean War have been accounted for, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Monday. 

Seven of the U.S. military members accounted for were prisoners of war who died in World War II. The other nine were killed in the Korean War. 

The seven prisoners of war - identified as Air Forces Sgt. Jack H. Hohlfeld, Corporal Raymond N. DeCloss, Sgt. Sam A. Prince, Tech. Sgt. Charles E. Young Jr, Air Forces Private Robert W. Cash, Private Jacob Gutterman, and Pfc. Joseph C. Murphy - were some of the thousands of service members who were captured and held as prisoners of war by Japanese forces in the Philippines. 

The DPAA did not offer any information about how the seven prisoners of war were accounted for or identified, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CBS News. The agency typically uses a range of methods, including mitochondrial DNA analysis and isotope analysis, to identify the remains of fallen soldiers, then contacts surviving family members to make plans for a full military burial. 

The nine soldiers who died in the Korean War were killed in battles around the peninsula. Sgt. Clayton M. Pierce, Corporal William Colby, and Sgt. Charles E. Beaty were reported missing in action after their units were attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Pierce and Colby were both in the same regiment. 

Corporal Jesse L. Mitchell and Sgt. John P. Rhyter both went missing when their units engaged in what the DPAA called "intensive combat actions" during the Battle of Ch'ongch'on River in 1950. Mitchell reportedly died while a prisoner of war. Rhyter was not recorded as killed during the battle, but there was also "never any evidence that he was a prisoner of war," the DPAA said. The U.S. Army listed a presumptive finding of his death in 1956, but he was not accounted for until now. 

The circumstances for the deaths of the remaining four soldiers were also unclear. Corporal Edward J. Smith was accounted for after being reported missing in action in August 1950 near Changnyong, South Korea. Sgt. 1st Class Israel Ramos went missing in action near Yongsan, South Korea in August 1950, but the DPAA said his body could not be recovered and his remains were determined to be nonrecoverable in 1956. Pfc. Charles A. Vorel Jr. was reported missing in action in July 1950, near the Kum River in South Korea, and was also declared non-recoverable in 1956. Army Sgt. Kester B. Hardman was reported missing after operations in April 1951. After the war ended in 1953, North Korean forces said Hardman had died while a captive in a prisoner of war camp, but his remains were not identified during or immediately after the war, the DPAA said. 

The DPAA did not say how the nine men were accounted for or how the remains of the soldiers, some listed as non-recoverable, were studied. 

North Korea is the only country with fallen U.S. servicemembers that the DPAA does not have diplomatic relations with, but in 2018, 55 boxes of Korean War remains were repatriated to the United States after an agreement between Kim Jong-Un and former president Donald Trump. Ashley Wright, a public affairs specialist with the DPAA, told CBS News in May that those boxes "yielded 250 different sets of DNA sequences." 

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