The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Pfc. John A. Shelemba, 19, of Hamtramck, Michigan, who was killed during the Korean War, was accounted for on Sept. 12, 2019.
(This identification was initially published Oct. 1, 2019.)
In the summer of 1950, Shelemba was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action July 20, 1950, while defending Taejon, South Korea. After the battle, his remains could not be recovered.
Following the war, the American Graves Registration Services was tasked with recovering the remains of U.S. casualties lost in South Korean battlefields. One set of remains, designated Unknown X-251 Taejon, could not be identified and was subsequently buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
In October 2018, DPAA disinterred Unknown X-251 from the Taejon and sent the remains to the laboratory for analysis.
To identify Shelemba remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of the Army for their partnership in this mission.
Today, 7,602 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. Shelemba’s 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.