Although military officials thought they had the remains of a missing Army corporal months after their recovery in 1950, it took another 72 years to verify his identity.
Cpl. Alton Christie, 18, of Jasper, Florida died fighting in the Korean War in July 1950. Fellow soldiers reported him missing in action on July 5 and no evidence pointed to his capture or confinement as a prisoner of war, according to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency release.
Christie served in Company B, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, seeing combat near Osan, South Korea before his disappearance.
The Army ruled a “presumptive finding of death” on Dec. 31, 1953, and declared his remains unrecoverable in January 1956.
But, in October 1950, soldiers found a set of 20 remains at Osan. Seven of those 20 were interred as unknown remains. Officials designated one of those sets X-214, thought to be Christie’s. But scientists did not have enough material to clearly identify the remnants, according to the release.
Officials then transported those remains to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“In December 2014, Christie’s next of kin contacted the Army and requested the disinterment of X-214 as a potential association with Christie,” according to the release.
The remains were disinterred on March 7, 2016.
His name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others still missing from the war. Next to his name, a rosette will be placed to indicate he has been accounted for.
The corporal’s remains are set to be buried in Jasper, Florida. A date has not yet been announced.
For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.