WASHINGTON—The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced Wednesday that Marine Pfc. Henry E. Ellis, 22, of Roanoke, killed during the Korean War, was accounted for on Sept. 29, 2020.
The family only just now received the full briefing on his identification, which accounts for the delay in the release.
In late 1950, Ellis was a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Service Battalion, 1st Marine Division. He was killed in action on Nov. 30, 1950, while defending the convoy of which he was a member near Koto-ri, North Korea. His body was not immediately recovered, though many deceased Marines were later recovered and buried in the United Nations Cemetery at Koto-ri as UN forces withdrew from the area.
During Operation GLORY in 1954, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea returned the remains of just over 4,200 individuals, of which nearly 3,000 were determined to be Americans. During the subsequent processing and identification of these remains, none were associated with Ellis, and he 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, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
In March 2012, historians, anthropologists, and odontologists at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a predecessor to DPAA, conducted in-depth research to support the exhumation of X-13631, narrowing down the possibility of who that unknown might be to two Marines, one of whom was Ellis. On Nov. 5, 2018, DPAA disinterred X-13631 and seven other unknowns as part of the Korean War Identification Project. These remains were transferred to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for analysis.
To identify Ellis’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Ellis’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Ellis will be buried on Aug. 23, 2021, in Salisbury, N.C.
For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.