Missing Korean War Veteran To Be Laid To Rest With Full Military Honors

Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Cummings, who was declared missing in action on the 29th November 1950, will be buried, with full military honors, on the 4th March in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Cummings was a serving member of the American forces that were serving alongside the United Nations Command and the forces of the Republic of Korea against the North Korean Army supported by an estimated 300,000 Chinese soldiers of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces.  The 187th regiment that Cummings was a part of were facing inhospitable terrain and inclement weather conditions when they were attacked, near the Yalu River, by a force of the combined North Korean and Chinese that vastly outnumbered the UN and American Forces.

In an effort to maintain communication lines, the UN and American Forces moved to a new position along the Chongchon and Kuryong rivers.  On the 29th November 1950, the regiment assembled a patrol that was tasked with reconnoitering the enemy positions, but it ran into an ambush near Hajoyang in North Korea.  Cummings was declared MIA after this ambush.

North Korea has reluctantly returned the remains of Allied forces killed in their territory, but no care was taken with the remains.  Between 1990 and 1994, 208 boxes of remains were returned by the North Korean authorities but no care was taken to keep the remains separate.  It is estimated that the boxes contained the remains of around 400 servicemen and the task of trying to separate and identify the remains has fallen to the DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory.

Using documents returned with the remains that give a rough idea where some of them were found, along with circumstantial evidence, forensic identification tools and dental records the Laboratory managed to identify Cummings’ remains.  The identification was possible by the use of mitochondrial DNA analysis, in conjunction with Y-chromosome short tandem repeat DNA analysis and autosomal (nuclear) DNA testing, which managed to match Cummings to his sister.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) will continue working to try and identify more of the 7,762 American servicemen still unaccounted for from the Korean War, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reported.

If you would like more information on the work undertaken by the DPAA on trying to locate, return and positively identify the remains of American soldiers that have fallen in service to the US, you can visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or connect via social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa. Alternatively, you can telephone (703) 699-1420.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE