The recently identified remains of a Korean War soldier who had been missing in action since 1950 will be buried Wednesday in Rad cliff, near Fort Knox.
Army Cpl. Harry J. Reeve was from Philadelphia. His closest living relative, James Hughes of Louisville, chose Radcliff as the site for Reeve's internment. Reeve apparently was executed by enemy troops after being captured in combat in 1950, the U.S. Defense Department said.
Reeve's remains were among those of seven soldiers recovered from a mass grave near Unsan, North Korea, in May 2004 by a joint U.S.-North Korea team. Experts from the U.S. military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command ultimately used mitochondrial DNA tests and dental records to positively identify Reeve's remains.
Hughes, who described himself as a "distant cousin" of Reeve, said Monday that he and one of his brothers provided DNA samples that were used in the identification. Hughes, who was three years older than Reeve, said they often played together when they were growing up in Philadelphia.
Never miss a local story.
"My brother Jack and I taught him to play football and basketball; we played all the sports when we young kids," Hughes said Monday.
Hughes said the Army officially listed Reeve as being 18 years old, but he was only 17. Hughes said Reeve's mother added a year to his age so Reeve could fulfill his wish to join the Army. Hughes said he thought his cousin probably wanted to enlist to get away from home. Reeve was sent to Korea soon after joining up.
"He fought for his country, he was killed, but his body was never returned," Hughes said Monday. "It has been 60 years, but here he is coming home."
According to the Defense Department, Reeve was assigned to the Army's 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. In early November 1950, the regiment occupied a defensive position near the North Korean town of Unsan, in a bend of the Kuryong River known as the "camel's head."
About Nov. 1, the U.S. troops came under heavy attack from the Communist Chinese People's Volunteer Army, which had just entered the Korean War. Members of Reeve's outfit fell back around their command post, fighting enemy troops hand to hand, only to be overwhelmed. Almost 400 soldiers of the 8th Calvary regiment were reported killed or missing in action as a result of the battle, the Defense Department said.
According to a Defense Department release, Reeve and nine other soldiers captured by Chinese troops during the fighting were moved to a house near the battlefield. James Hughes said Monday that the Americans were turned over to North Korean soldiers, who then marched them to a nearby field and shot them. Three soldiers survived, however, and two of them later confirmed the executions.
Military officials said they ultimately identified seven soldiers from the mass burial site.