Details released for North Korean remains repatriation ceremony at Hickam

Posted by On 2:32 AM

Details released for North Korean remains repatriation ceremony at Hickam

  • COURTESY PHOTO

    A joint honor guard received six repatriated service members April 12, 2007, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam that were returned from North Korea. The remains were transferred to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency lab at Hickam for identification.

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Two Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft will be back to back outside Hangar 19 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Wednesday for the repatriation to American soil of remains turned over by North Korea, an official said.

Fifty-five American-flag-draped aluminum tr ansfer cases will be carried off the planes by two joint service honor guard details and arrayed in the hangar for the afternoon ceremony that will include comments by Vice President Mike Pence.

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The remains will then be transferred to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s lab on Hickam for identification.

In a statement, Pence said President Donald Trump asked him to participate in the “honorable carry ceremony” and receive the presumed American remains as they return home.

“As the son of a Korean War combat veteran, it is deeply humbling to be part of this historic moment,” Pence said. “We will never forget the sacrifices these brave service members and their families made for our nation and our freedoms.”

Fourteen Hawaii residents who are Korean War veterans are expected to attend the ceremony, along with dozens of oth ers from the Vietnam War and veteran organizations such as the American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Special Forces Association and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

A C-17 containing remains of fallen service members departed Wonsan, North Korea, on Thursday Hawaii time headed to South Korea and accompanied by United Nations Command Korea officials and technical experts from the accounting agency to preliminarily examine the remains.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters on Friday that the reason the remains weren’t headed to Hawaii immediately was because they had to be reviewed.

In South Korea, the accounting agency would “look for any anomalies,” and “then the forensics will begin when we land them in Hawaii where the laboratory is,” he said.

“We don’t know who’s in those boxes,” Mattis said, adding they could be missing Americans or Australian or French troops.

On multiple occasions in the past, North Korean of ficials claimed the government possessed as many as 200 sets of American remains that had been recovered over the years, the accounting agency said.

Mattis said it was a “good question” as to why 55 sets of remains are coming home.

“We can’t go back in and verify what the number they had was before,” he said. “We know what they said. But for us, we’ll simply say this is obviously a gesture of carrying forward what they agreed to in Singapore, and we take it as such.”

The return follows the historic June 12 summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In addition to North Korea committing “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” both countries vowed to recover POW/MIA remains â€" including the “immediate repatriation” of those already identified by the North.

Mattis said it is the “first step of a restarted process” to recover American remains from North Korea, “so we do want to e xplore additional efforts to bring others home, perhaps to have our own teams go in.”

The last time North Korea turned over American remains was in 2007. Six boxes were given to then-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi on a trip to the North.

Source: Google News North Korea | Netizen 24 North Korea

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