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Remains of 17-year-old soldier killed during Korean War identified

GRANT, Mich. — The remains of a 17-year-old soldier from Michigan who was killed in the Korean War in 1950 have been identified and will be buried in his home state, military officials said.

U.S. Army Pfc. Thomas A. Smith’s remains were identified in September by military scientists who analyzed DNA, dental and anthropological evidence, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Tuesday.

Smith, who was from Grant, Michigan, will be buried in that western Michigan city at a date that has yet to be determined, the agency said.

Smith was 17 when on Aug. 2, 1950, he was reported missing in action when his unit took part in “defensive action near Chinju at the southern end of the Korean peninsula,” the DPAA said. His remains could not be recovered and the Army issued a presumptive finding of death for him in late 1953.

The remains recently identified as Smith’s were recovered in late 1950 near the village of Hwagye, South Korea, by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps but could not be identified. In 1956, they were buried in Honolulu at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, with other unidentified service members who died in the Korean War.

In March 2019, Smith’s remains were disinterred and sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.

A rosette will be placed next to Smith’s name at the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl to indicate he has been accounted for.

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