The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced Sept. 28 that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Marine Pfc. Richard S. Gzik, of Toledo, Ohio, was buried Sept. 28, at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
On Dec. 2, 1950, Gzik and the other Marines of M Battery, 11th Artillery Regiment, 1st Marine Division, came under attack on the west side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. It was during this battle that Gzik was killed in action and his remains were buried alongside the road leading to Hagaru-ri. Later that month, the withdrawal of U.N. forces from the Chosin Reservoir region made it impossible to recover Gzik’s remains.
In 1954, United Nations and Communist Forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called “Operation Glory.” All remains recovered in Operation Glory were turned over to the Army Central Identification Unit for analysis. Those which were unable to be identified, given the technology of that time, were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii — the “Punchbowl.”
In 2012, analysts from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) re-examined the case records and determined that advances in technology could likely aid in the identification of the unknown remains as Gzik. Once the remains were exhumed, scientists from JPAC used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including dental records and radiographs, to validate Gzik’s identification.
Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously buried as unknown. Today, 7,947 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.