WASHINGTON — The agreement signed by President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un last week could result in the remains of missing West Virginia service members who fought in the Korean War returning home.
The accord, which also includes the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, was signed by Trump and Kim on June 12. The agreement acknowledges both countries as interested in recovering the remains of prisoners of war and soldiers who went missing in action and related efforts to return those bodies to the United States.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 7,800 American troops went missing during the conflict, including 164 West Virginians. Around 5,300 individuals were lost in North Korea, in which most men died in major battles or as prisoners of war. Deaths involving air combat happened over North Korea.
“It is a significant development, and it is something very important to the work of our congressional office,” U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., told reporters last week. “We want to bring attention to a very important step to bring our heroes home.”
Between 1996 and 2005, American and North Korean forces conducted 33 joint operations to recover human remains, in which 229 bodies were discovered. Out of the American remains, 14 sets were identified as service members from West Virginia.
“We need to bring closure to the families,” Jenkins said. “These brave souls need to have a fitting burial back in the Mountain State.”
Jenkins said his office has contacted the VFW, the American Legion and other veterans organizations to get information about the missing soldiers.
“I’m the proud son-in-law of a Korean War vet,” he said. “Outside my office here in Washington is a POW/MIA flag. There is not a day I go to work, each day here in Congress in Washington, that I do not recognize, acknowledge and think about our brave men and women who have served our country and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and far too many who never came home.”