U.S. anticipates homecoming of Korean War remains Friday

Matt Saintsing
July 26, 2018 - 5:52 pm

Photo by Richard Gray/EMPICS

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The repatriation of American remains. 

That’s one of the four major points listed in the joint statement signed by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the first-of-its-kind meeting in Singapore on June 12. 

"The United States and the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified,” read the agreement, mentioning North Korea by its official state name. 

But Friday brings the anniversary of another incredibly historic document, the armistice that ended the Korean War, and North Korea is expected to finally follow through on the promise made in June and return more than 55 sets of American war remains. 

“To have the repatriation of American remains included in one of the four points in the agreement was very encouraging to the Korean War families who have waited for almost 65 years,”  Ann Mills-Griffith, chairman of the board for the National League of POW/MIA Families. 

“I am hopeful that Chairman Kim meant what he said that it would not be used as something that’s long and drawn out for many more years while witnesses die and family members die because it’s been a long time.” 

The Korean War lasted from 1950 to 1953 and the U.S. suffered more than 33,000 combat deaths. But it is thought some 7,700 American troops remain unaccounted for during the conflict—with about 5,300 lost on the North Korean soil. 

If all goes according to plan, 55 sets of remains will be transfered Friday from North Korea to the U.S. airbase in Osan, South Korea, where they would be recorded and then flown to a processing center in Hawaii next week. 

But North Korea snubbed the U.S. earlier this month regarding coordination for the return of American remains. North Korean officials essentially stood up Americans for what was supposed to be a meeting between the two adversarial nations. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo didn’t think it was that big of a deal and told reporters before his latest trip to Pyongyang that the meeting “could move by one day or two.” 

It remains to be seen if North Korea will fulfill this crucial component in the agreement, but for the families of the fallen, the repatriation can’t come soon enough.