Jennings native, Korean War POW, laid to rest

Posted at 3:54 PM, Jul 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-06 16:54:22-04

The remains of a Jennings man who was captured during the Korean War have been identified and have been returned to his family. 

U.S. Army Sgt. John W. Hall was finally accounted for in June 2017 and was buried today in Houston, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Hall was 23 and a member of Headquarters Battery, 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in November 1950 when his unit received orders to move from Kunu-ri to Sunchon, North Korea. The division received reports that the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces had set up fireblocks on several roads, including their planned withdrawal route. The division organized a movement into convoys, with Hall in the eighth convoy. Hall’s battalion began their withdrawal through an area known as “The Gauntlet.” Hall was reported missing in action on Dec. 1, 1950, in the vicinity of Somindong, North Korea.

Following the war, one returning American prisoner of war reported that Hall had been captured and died on January 26, 1951 at Hofong Camp, or “Death Valley,” part of the Pukchin-Tarigol Camp Cluster.

Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service hoped to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Hall’s remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable.

In April and May 2005, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (predecessor to DPAA) and Korean People’s Army (KPA) recovery team conducted the 37th Joint Field Activity in Unsan County, North Pyongan Province, North Korea. Remains were found in what was believed to have been a secondary burial site, and were sent to the Central Identification Laboratory in Honolulu for analysis.

To identify Hall’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA analysis as well as anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence.

Today, 7,699 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams. Hall’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, 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.

For more information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, click here.