The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Sgt. 1st Class Elden C. Justus, 23, of Eureka, California, killed during the Korean War, was accounted for on April 16, 2019.
(This identification was initially published on April 26, 2019.)
In late November 1950, Justus was a member of Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was engaged by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. By December 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured or killed in enemy territory. When Justus could not be accounted for by his unit at the end of the battle; he was reported missing in action as of Dec. 6, 1950.
From April 28 to May 10, 2004, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a predecessor to DPAA, conducted joint recovery operations with the North Korean People’s Army (KPA,) in the vicinity of the Chosin River. The recovery team excavated two sites, recovering the remains of at least five individuals. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea,) unilaterally turned over the remains to the UNC Military Armistice Commissioned, where they were subsequently accessioned to the laboratory.
To identify Justus’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.
Today, 7,652 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by Korean officials, recovered from Korea by American recovery teams or disinterred from unknown graves. Justus’ name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Honolulu, along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.