Korea remains: Sons receive father’s dog tag after 70 years
Nearly 70 years after he died in combat in the Korean War, a US army medic’s dog tag is back home with his two sons.
The dog tag was among the 55 boxes of remains that North Korea handed over to American officials on 27 July after a request by President Donald Trump.
Army Master Sgt Charles H McDaniel was killed in 1950. His tag is the only item officials could connect with a specific soldier thus far.
The Pentagon is still working to identify the other remains.
Sgt McDaniel’s sons, retired Army Chaplain Col Charles McDaniel Jr, 71, and Larry McDaniel, 70, received the dog tag on Wednesday after a briefing on the war remains in Arlington, Virginia.
The repatriation of US remains was agreed by Mr Trump and Mr Kim after their June summit in Singapore.
Vice-President Mike Pence was in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to receive the 55 coffins earlier this month.
‘This is my father’
The tag shows its age and history. The discoloured metal is missing a chunk from the bottom along with two other holes.
It was found on a battlefield near Unsan, North Korea, where Sgt McDaniel was killed in battle.
Turning the dog tag over in his hands, Col McDaniel Jr told reporters: “This is my father.”
“It’s a very mixed, jumbled moment for us because we didn’t expect this,” he said.
“Suddenly we were contacted by the Department of the Army and they said, ‘we found one dog tag, it was your father’s.'”
The remains found in the box with Sgt McDaniel’s dog tag may not be his, however.
The Department of Defense’s laboratory in Hawaii is beginning the process of analysing DNA extracted from the bones.
Experts say identifying the remains could take months or years.
According to laboratory officials, the bones are in states of “moderate to poor preservation”, the Military Times reported.
“We’re the only ones that have a name now,” Col McDaniel Jr said. “We have some connection…We don’t know that [the remains] are my father’s, but at least we have this.”
Who was Sgt McDaniel?
Sgt McDaniel was the son of an Indiana farmer. He served in Europe during World War Two for over a year, according to his family.
When he was deployed to Korea in August 1950, his two sons were only three and two years old.
His battalion and the South Korean forces they were sent to support were overrun by Chinese forces in October near Unsan, 60 miles (96km) north of Pyongyang.
“I was a small boy and have very little memory of my father,” Col McDaniel Jr said at the briefing.
But when he got the phone call about the tag, he said, he faced some “very deep” emotions.
“I sat there and I cried for a while.”
For two days, 775 family members have been in Arlington, hoping for answers to the uncertainties around their loved ones.
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 7,800 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.
Around 5,300 of those soldiers were lost in North Korea.
For the McDaniel family, the dog tag has given them a tangible piece of their father’s legacy.
“We’re thankful for that,” Col McDaniel Jr said.