Remains of Roanoke Marine killed during Korean War identified

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced on Wednesday morning that 22-year-old Marine Pfc. Henry E. Ellis of Roanoke — who was killed during the Korean War — was accounted for in late September 2020.

According to the DPAA, in late 1950, Ellis was a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Service Battalion, 1st Marine Division. However, on Nov. 30, 1950, Ellis was killed in action while defending his convoy near Koto-ri, North Korea.

Officials say Ellis’ body was not immediately recovered, but the bodies of many Marines were recovered and buried in the United Nations Cemetery later on at Koto-ri as UN forces withdrew from the area.

The DPAA says Democratic People’s Republic of Korea returned the remains of just over 4,200 individuals — of which nearly 3,000 were determined to be American — during Operation GLORY in 1954.

However, during the subsequent processing and identification of these remains, officials say none were associated with Ellis, who was declared non-recoverable on Jan. 16, 1956.

At the end of the identification process, 848 unidentified remains, including one designated X-13631 Operation GLORY, were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, according to the DPAA.

In March 2012, though, historians, anthropologists, and odontologists at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command — a predecessor to DPAA –reportedly conducted in-depth research to support the exhumation of X-13631, narrowing down the remains’ potential identity to two Marines, including Ellis.

On Nov. 5, 2018, the DPAA disinterred X-13631 and seven other unknowns as part of the Korean War Identification Project before transferring the remains to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for analysis.

In order to to identify Ellis’s remains, officials say scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis while scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence.

Ellis’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl — along with the others from the Korean War who are still missing — but now a rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate his remains have been identified.

Even though Ellis was accounted for on Sept. 29, 2020, the DPAA said in a statement on Wednesday, July 7 that his family just received the full briefing about his identification.

Ellis is set to be buried in Salisbury, North Carolina on Aug. 23.

For family and funeral information, you are asked to call the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

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