The US military has identified the remains of two American soldiers almost 70 years after they were reported missing during the Korean War.
Army Cpl. Jerry M. Garrison and Sgt. Gerald B. Raeymacker were reported missing within a few days of each other in December 1950 in North Korea.
North Korea returned 55 cases containing the remains of US service members in July 2018, after President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has identified the remains of 35-40 service members that were in those crates, said DPAA spokesman Sgt. 1st Class Sean Everette.
The agency doesn’t yet know how many people’s remains were in the crates, Everette said.
“Our labs are continuing to identify as many of the remains as we possibly can,” he said.
The DPAA says that 7,609 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.
Both Garrison and Raeymacker died in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, one of the war’s bloodiest battles. US Marines and soldiers were advancing toward the Chinese border when more than 100,000 Chinese soldiers poured over the border, surprising US Marines of the 1st Marine Division, soldiers from the Army’s 31st Regimental Combat Team and South Korean and British units.
Surrounded by the Chines, US and allied forces were forced to fight their way to way to safety during one of North Korea’s worst winters. After the two-week battle, nearly 6,000 Americans were dead or missing and the Chinese lost an estimated 50,000 soldiers.
Cpl. Jerry Mack Garrison was a 21-year-old from Lamar, Arkansas, and was a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.
He was reported missing on December 2, 1950, after his unit was attacked during his unit’s withdrawal to Hagaru-ri during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, according to his personnel profile.
“He died at some point following his disappearance, although the details of his loss are unknown,” it said.
His sister, Alice Pearson, was 13 when he died.
“He was such a nice person,” she said. “Kind. And he was happy.”
She says people called him “Jerry Mack” and that he laughed a lot. She remembered love of horses as he never owned a car. Pearson says she remembers listening for him to ride home on his horse at night before she went to sleep.
“He was always singing the “Cattle Call,” Eddy Arnold’s song,” she said.
Pearson turns 85 in February and said she never expected to find out what happened to her brother.
“We’re just proud that he’s coming home,” she said. “It’s not what we wanted, but it’s better than nothing.”
His funeral service is scheduled for October 22, in his hometown.
“I’m going to have him buried close to my mother and father,” she said.
Sgt. Gerald Bernard Raeymacker was severely wounded on December 6, 1950, when Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces attacked his convoy. He escaped the truck he was driving but was hit by enemy fire while taking cover in a field.
Another soldier covered him with hay to hide him from the enemy, his personnel profile said, and he was reported missing after the incident.
Raeymacker was a member of Battery B, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division.
The 21-year-old was from Dunkirk, New York, and was one of 10 children.
His niece, Darlene Cooley, was just a toddler when he died, but she heard about him from her dad.
“I remember my dad talking about him and missing him,” she said. “He talked about Gerald and wishing he knew what happened.”
She said the news was overwhelming for Raeymacker’s five surviving siblings.
“The family is just overjoyed that he’s finally going home,” she said.
He is scheduled to be buried on October 19 in Dunkirk, near his mother.
“His mother’s wishes were that if he was ever to be found that he would be buried in Dunkirk,” Cooley said.