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Remains of Luzerne County man killed in Korean conflict are identified nearly 70 years later

U.S. Army Sgt. James Stryker, 20, was killed near Han’gye, South Korea, in 1951. His remains were accounted for on Aug. 5, 2020. His family was recently informed.
Credit: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
U.S. Army Sgt. James Stryker

WEST NANTICOKE, Pa. — A Pennsylvania man who was killed during the Korean War in 1951 was positively accounted for last year, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced this month.

While the remains of U.S. Army Sgt. James N. Stryker, of West Nanticoke, Luzerne County, were accounted for on Aug. 5, 2020, his family recently received a full briefing on the identification process, the DPAA said. 

In May 1951, Stryker was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on May 18, when the enemy attacked his unit near Han’gye, South Korea. 

Stryker's remains could not be immediately recovered, but he was not officially declared dead until after the Armistice was signed July 27, 1953.

During a search of Korean War battlefields later in May 1951, an unknown set of remains was recovered from the area where Stryker went missing, according to the DPAA. After a preliminary examination at Tanggok United Nations Military Cemetery, an identification could not be made and the remains were buried as Unknown X-1373 Tanggok. 

Further attempts were made to identify X-1373, but were unsuccessful, the DPAA said.

The remains were later transported with all of the unidentified Korean War remains and buried as Unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In May 2017, the family of an unresolved soldier associated with the same area where Stryker went missing requested X-1373 be disinterred for comparison with their Soldier, the DPAA said.

Further research by a DPAA historian and forensic anthropologist determined X-1373 and the soldier were unlikely to be associated, but that X-1373 could be associated with Stryker or five other soldiers. 

X-1373 was disinterred Aug. 20, 2018, and sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor/Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.

To identify Stryker’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence, the agency said.vAdditionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Stryker’s name is recorded on the American Battle Monuments Commission’s 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, the DPAA said.

Stryker will be buried in San Antonio, Texas at a date that has yet to be determined, according to the DPAA.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

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