The San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that Army Cpl. Robert Graham disappeared after Chinese forces attacked his battalion in February 1951. Graham, who was only 20-years-old at the time, was starved to death in a North Korean camp.
“Things are finally coming to closure for the family … after 65 years,” said James George, 59, of Fairfield, a retired Marine Corps master sergeant who escorted his uncle’s remains on a flight from Hawaii to San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday.
George watched as six servicemen carried the flag-wrapped casket from the airplane to the hearse. He and two other relatives gave DNA that enabled the Army to identify a single bone from Graham’s leg last fall. The bone was among other body parts of missing U.S. servicemen that North Korea turned over in 1993.
His remains weren’t among those returned by North Korea after the armistice was signed in July 1953.
Graham’s niece, Nicole Venturelli, of Redwood, California, said his name was never on any prisoner of war list kept by North Korea. She said North Korean officials described the 208 boxes of bones they released to the U.S. in 1993 as parts taken from a holding area at the entrance of Suan camp.
The remains were shipped to a Defense Department lab in Hawaii that was to account for all Americans held as prisoners or missing in action in Korea, Vietnam and other U.S. wars. There were delays, but last year the Pentagon reorganized the program and transferred its management to Washington, D.C., according to the Chronicle. A military funeral is scheduled for Friday in Colma.