HEROES RETURN: Trump Thanks Kim for Returning Remains of US Soldiers

The pledge to return the remains of USA soldiers was made during a landmark summit between Trump and Kim in June in Singapore, where North Korea committed to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

The North Koreans provided enough specifics about where each suspected body was found that US officials have matched them to specific battles fought from 1950 to 1951, although not necessarily individuals, he said.

Still, the initial field forensic review indicated the "remains are what North Korea said they were", Byrd said.

McKeague said that DPAA has a DNA database from 92 percent of the families of the estimated 7,700 US service members still listed as missing from the 1950-53 Korean War and DNA comparisons with the remains from the 55 cases would begin shortly.

It's still unclear where the United States stands with North Korea.

"I would go back in an instant if we were asked to", said Byrd who participated in numerous earlier search missions.

Location information accompanying the boxes suggested most of the remains are those of U.S. Army soldiers who fought in the famous 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

More than 5,300 United States troops are still missing in North Korea. "But we'll see what happens".

McKeague said North Korea did not receive any payment for the transfer this week.

McKeague did not say whether the United States would continue reimbursing North Korea, should field operations in the country resume.

He said numerous recovered remains likely belonged to U.S. Army soldiers who fought in the November, 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir - 1,024 Americans are still missing from that battle.

"They had been very carefully packaged with padding and packaging that was done to I think a very high standard", Byrd said in a video call from Hawaii, where the DPAA has a large lab.

That process will also determine if each box contains the remains of more than one individual.

The agency's officials expressed confidence that the remains the North Koreans handed over this week were indeed those of Americans service members who died during the war.

Despite such clues, the process of identifying the remains is onerous.

But other techniques such as comparing teeth to dental records and bones to chest X-rays are also used. It was the first repatriation of remains since 2005.

  • Joey Payne