The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. soldier, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Cpl. Francis D. Knobel of La Crosse, Wisconsin, will be buried May 21, in Arlington National Cemetery. In December 1950, Knobel was a member of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, operating along the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. On Dec. 12, 1950, following the battle, Knobel was one of many men reported missing in action.
From Aug. 31 to Nov. 9, 1954, the United Nations and communist forces exchanged war dead, commonly known as Operation Glory. As part of the exchange, communist forces turned over 25 boxes of remains that were believed to be American servicemen who were recovered near where Knobel was lost. The remains were transferred to the U.S. Army’s Central Identification Unit (CIU) in Kokura, Japan, for analysis. From the 25 boxes transferred to the CIU, 17 servicemen were identified; one box was believed to contain a Korean national, and the last seven boxes of remains could not be identified. When all attempts to associate the unidentified remains to American servicemen were unsuccessful, a military review board declared the remains to be unidentifiable and the remains were transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, commonly known as the Punchbowl.
In 2014, with advances in technology, the Department of Defense re-examined records from the CIU and concluded it was possible to identify the remains. The remains were exhumed and analyzed.
To identify Knobel’s remains, scientists from DoD and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence, radiographs, and dental comparison.
Today, 7,852 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams.