Remains of Kansas soldier who died in Korean War returned to U.S.

A rosette will be engraved alongside the name of a Sedgwick man at a memorial for missing Korean War veterans. The rosette indicates the soldier has been found.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Tuesday that the remains of U.S. Army Sgt. James E. Smith Jr. had been found among the 55 boxes returned to the U.S. from North Korea. The remains were handed over following a 2018 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. DPAA spokesperson Sean Everette said the agency identified at least 38 service members among the boxes and expect to identify more.

“It helps bring closure to the family and it’s just a good thing to be able to say we know for sure what happened to these people,” Everette said.

Smith will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. Smith was reported missing on Nov. 25, 1950, after enemy forces attacked his unit near Kujang-dong, North Korea.

Everette said Smith was taken to a prisoner of war camp. Soldiers who were released from the camp reported Smith died there in January 1951. He was 21.

Everette said the records don’t list how the soldiers reported Smith died.

Smith’s name was put on a memorial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. The rosette will be placed next to his name.

The DPAA reports 7,608 Americans are still unaccounted for from the Korean War. Smith was identified on Aug. 19 using family DNA.

Everett said the last Korean War veteran identified from Kansas was U.S. Army Cpl. Wayne Minard of Furley, who was identified in 2016.

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Michael Stavola covers breaking news at The Wichita Eagle. He’s won a national and several state awards during his five years of working at newspapers in Kansas. He plans to finish his MBA at Wichita State University in spring 2020. Michael likes to exercise, hunt and spend time with his wife and their dog, Marley.