Pima resident part of history as Korean War remains returned to Hawaii

Soldiers transport what is believed to be U.S. service members’ remains from the Korean War back onto U.S. soil. (Photo taken from live video stream)

Remains will be attempted to be identified at Hawaii lab

By Jon Johnson


Honolulu, Hawaii – On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began in earnest as 75,000 North Korean soldiers poured over the 38th parallel, which was the boundary dividing the Soviet-backed North Koreans from the United States-backed South Koreans.

In July 1950, the United States had entered the war and sent troops to fight the spread of Communism. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 7,699 U.S. soldiers went missing during the conflict. On Wednesday, Aug. 1, some of the remains of those missing soldiers were returned to Hawaii and local Pima resident Augustus Damron, who is serving in the Army, was there to take part in the ceremony.

According to his mother, Linda “Jeanie” Damron, five branches of the military were on hand and represented by soldiers, with Augustus being one of the chosen to represent the Army. Most of the remains came from a village that was the site of a battle in the fall of 1950 where mostly Army soldiers fought.

“To him, it’s a really big deal,” Jeanie said. “He’s a humble guy. He was really stoked about being chosen for this.”

The remains were actually turned over by North Korea to a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft on Friday, July 26, which was the 65th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.   

Contributed Photo/Courtesy U.S. Air Force: Remains of U.S. soldiers from the Korean War are transported onto a U.S. Air Force plane to be returned to the United States.

On Wednesday, 55 boxes of remains of what is believed to be fallen U.S. troops were returned to Hawaii accompanied by a ceremony. The return of the remains came after a summit between President Donald Trump and Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. On Thursday, Trump thanked Jong Un for returning the remains.

Jeanie Damron said the day will live with her son forever and that he was very honored to be chosen and humbled by the ceremony. Augustus also took a picture with Vice President Mike Pence, who was also at the ceremony.

“Some have called the Korean War the ‘forgotten war,’ but today, we prove these heroes were never forgotten,” Pence said at the ceremony. “Today, our boys are coming home.”

Vice President Mike Pence stands with military members during the ceremony. (Photo was taken from a video of the event)

The remains will be tested at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in an attempt to identify them, which could take months or even years, according to government spokespersons.

North Korea previously returned 208 boxes of remains of U.S. troops between 1990 to 1994 and recovery worked continued in the country between 1996 to 2005 when the work was suspended by President George W. Bush due to fears about security and increased tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program. The last time North Korea returned remains was in 2007 when former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson secured the return of six sets of remains. 

In total, 36,940 Americans were killed in the Korean War, with another 92,134 wounded between 1950 to 1953. The remains of roughly 5,300 U.S. soldiers are believed to still be in North Korea somewhere.