Remains of Korean War Soldier Returned to US

In this April 7, 2016 photo, Nicole Venturelli and James George share a moment after the remains of their uncle, Army Cpl. Robert Graham, were offloaded from a plane at San Francisco International Airport. (Connor Radnovich/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)
In this April 7, 2016 photo, Nicole Venturelli and James George share a moment after the remains of their uncle, Army Cpl. Robert Graham, were offloaded from a plane at San Francisco International Airport. (Connor Radnovich/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

SAN FRANCISCO -- The remains of a Korean War soldier have been flown back to the San Francisco Bay Area more than six decades after he went missing in South Korea.

Army Cpl. Robert Graham disappeared after Chinese forces attacked his combat battalion in February 1951, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday.

Graham was captured and starved to death in a North Korean camp. He was 20 years old.

"Things are finally coming to closure for the family ... after 65 years," said James George, 59, of Fairfield, a retired Marine Corps master sergeant who escorted his uncle's remains on a flight from Hawaii to San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday.

Wearing his military uniform, George watched as six servicemen carried the flag-wrapped casket from the airplane to a waiting hearse.

George and two other relatives contributed DNA that enabled the Army to identify a single bone from Graham's leg last fall. The bone was among body parts of missing U.S. servicemen that North Korea turned over in 1993. Recent advances in genetic testing allowed officials to make the ID.

His remains were not among those returned by North Korea after the armistice in July 1953.

Moreover, his niece, Nicole Venturelli, 51, of Redwood City, California, said Graham's name was never on any prisoner of war list from North Korea. She said North Korean officials described the 208 boxes of bones they released to the U.S. military in 1993 as body parts taken from a holding area at the entrance to the Suan camp.

The remains were shipped to a Defense Department lab in Hawaii that was to account for all Americans held as prisoners or missing in action in Korea, Vietnam and other U.S. wars. There were delays, but last year the Pentagon reorganized the program and transferred its management to Washington, D.C., the newspaper reported.

A military funeral is scheduled for Friday in Colma.

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Army Veterans Korean War