Fulfilling Our Nation’s Promise

POW/MIA U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph J. Puopolo remains return home for final burial

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph J. Puopolo, 19, of East Boston, who died as a prisoner of war during the Korean War, was accounted for on Aug. 23, 2022.

U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph J. Puopolo.

In late 1950, Puopolo was a member of C Battery, 38th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Infantry Division Artillery, 8th U.S. Army. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, after his unit attempted to withdraw from Kunu-ri, North Korea, on Nov. 30, following the Battle of Ch’ongch’on. In 1953, four POWs who returned during Operation Big Switch reported Puopolo had been a prisoner of war and died in February 1951 at Prisoner of War Camp #5.

In the late summer and fall of 1954, during Operation Glory, North Korea returned remains reportedly recovered from Pyoktong, also known as Prisoner of War Camp #5, to the United Nations Command. None were associated with Puopolo.

One set of remains disinterred from Camp #5 returned during Operation Glory was designated Unknown X-14430 and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

In July 2018, the DPAA proposed a plan to disinter 652 Korean War Unknowns from the Punchbowl. In December 2019, the DPAA disinterred Unknown X-14430 as part of Phase Two of the Korean War Disinterment Plan and sent the remains to the DPAA laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for analysis.

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

Puopolo’s name is recorded on the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Puopolo will be buried in Malden, Massachusetts, at a date yet to be determined.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

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