The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Master Sgt. James G. Cates, 29, of Philadelphia, Mississippi, killed during the Korean War, was accounted for on May 31, 2019.
(This identification was initially published June 4, 2019.)
In late November 1950, Cates was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 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 attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. The American forces withdrew south with the Chinese attacks continuing. By December 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining Soldiers had been either captured, killed or went missing in enemy territory. Because Cates could not be accounted for by his unit at the end of the battle, he was reported missing in action as of Dec. 3, 1950.
In September 1954, as part of Operation Glory, where the United Nations Command, Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces and Korean People’s Army exchanged war dead at Munsan-ni, South Korea, the United Nations received 25 sets of remains reported to have been recovered from isolated burial sites east of the Chosin Reservoir. The remains were sent to the Central Identification Unit for attempted identification. One set, designated X-15903 was declared unidentifiable. They were then transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP,) known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu and were interred as Unknown.
In February 2013, following thorough historical and scientific analysis, X-15903 was disinterred from the Punchbowl and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
To identify Cates’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission.
Today, 7,631 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. Cates’ name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl along with others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.