Questions and answers about the Korean War and the U.S. troops missing in action:
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE KOREAN WAR?
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950. It was the first military conflict of the Cold War, pitting the Soviet-advised North Korean People’s Army, which later had massive support from communist China, against a U.S.-led coalition of United Nations forces supporting South Korea. Fearing the conflict would expand into a broader war directly against China or the Soviet Union, the U.S. sought an armistice agreement, which was finally agreed upon in July 1953. Estimates vary widely, but well over 1 million troops are believed to have died — including 36,574 Americans — along with more than 1 million civilians. Virtually all cities in the North were destroyed by heavy U.S. bombing. The war is technically not over, since no peace treaty has ever been signed.
HOW MANY KOREAN WAR GIs ARE MISSING?
More than 7,800 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. That’s almost five times more than the Vietnam War and is second only to World War II. The remains of about 5,300 US GIs are believed still in North Korea. Pyongyang returned more than 3,000 remains in 1954 and from 1990-94 returned boxes which could contain the remains of as many as 400 more. Joint recovery operations in the North from July 1996 to May 2005 recovered 229 sets of remains. They are being processed for identification in Hawaii.
HOW ABOUT ALL U.S. WARS?
According to the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 83,000 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Persian Gulf wars and other conflicts. Three-quarters of them are missing from the Asia-Pacific region, and nearly half are presumed lost at sea. That means there are more than 40,000 whose remains are believed to be potentially recoverable. At its current identification rate, it would take more than 550 years for DPAA to finish its mission. But the DPAA stresses its task isn’t just about numbers. It states on its website, “We will stay the course with this mission until the job is done.”
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