Army Sgt. Bernard J. Fisher of Wilkes Barre, Pa., was buried July 16 in Arlington National Cemetery. In January 1951, Fisher and elements of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment (IR), 24th Infantry Division (ID), were deployed northeast of Seoul, South Korea, where they were attacked by enemy forces. During the 19th IR attempt to delay the enemy forces from advancing, Fisher and his unit moved towards a more defensible position when the unit suffered heavy losses. It was during this attack that Fisher was reported missing.
In July 1951, the U.S. Army Graves Registration recovered the remains of four men north of Shaha-dong, near Seoul, South Korea. The remains were buried in the United Nation Cemetery at Tanggok, South Korea, and were disinterred and transferred to the U.S. Army’s Central Identification Unit in Kokura, Japan for laboratory analysis.
During the analysis the remains of three men could not be positively identified. In March 1955, a military review board declared the remains of the fourth to be unidentifiable. The unidentified remains were transferred to Hawaii, where they were interred as “unknown” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the “Punchbowl.”
In 2012, U.S. officials reevaluated Fisher’s records and determined that with advances in technology, the unknown remains could likely be identified. Following the reevaluation, the decision was made to exhume the remains for scientific analysis identification.
In the identification of the remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as dental comparison and chest radiograph – which matched Fisher’s records.
Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials. Today, more than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.