Sixty-six years after a soldier died as a prisoner of war during the Korean War, his remains are coming home to South Jersey.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Friday that it had identified the remains of Army Pvt. Walter Piper of Williamstown, Gloucester County, New Jersey.
Piper was just 21 when he went missing when the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, supporting Republic of Korea Army attacks against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF) in the village of Hoengsong, an area known as the Central Corridor in South Korea, withdrew and headed toward Wonju, South Korea on Feb. 13, 1951, the DPAA said.
"On Dec. 26, 1951, Piper’s name appeared on a list provided by the CPVF and Korean People’s Army (KPA) of allied service members who died while in their custody," the DPAA said in a news release. "Two returning American prisoners of war reported that Piper had died while a prisoner at the Suan Prisoner of War Camp Complex in North Korea. Based off of this information, the Army declared him deceased as of June 18, 1951."
Between 1990 and 1994 North Korea returned 208 boxes of commingled human remains from at least 400 U.S. service members who died during the Korean War. Using DNA analysis that matched Piper’s brother, dental records and circumstantial evidence, scientists positively identified Piper’s remains, the DPAA said.
Piper, who graduated from Glassboro High School, will be buried with full military honors in his hometown on June 17. Visitation is open to public at Farnelli Funeral Home at 504 N. Main Street from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. with burial to follow at the Gloucester County Veterans Memorial Cemetery, according to his obituary.
There are still 7,745 Americans who served in the Korean War that remain unaccounted for, according to the DPAA, which is using modern technology to identify more fallen heroes.