Bringing one home

Recently the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command was able to identify the remains of Corporal Clarence Huff, USMC.  During the Korean War Cpl Huff was part of Item Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.  He was reported killed in action on 2 December, 1950, south of a town called Yudam-ni. Though he was a known battlefield death, his body was not recovered.  Excavations by JPAC in North Korea, between 1996 and 2005, resulted in the recovery and repatriation of remains of over 220 U.S. servicemen.  Some remains from that battle are still unidentified and are interned at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Now days DNA is used to help identify some of our unknown fallen. In Cpl Huff’s case, his remains were part of a mass recovery of unknowns who were shipped to somewhere in Japan back in the ‘50s. There, a preservative was applied to the remains which, it turns out, degrades DNA. This was all before DNA testing was even a consideration and being an unknown, Cpl Huff was one of many interned at the Punchbowl.  Recently, it was discovered Cpl Huff was among a small group who had chest x-rays done before they deployed. With the help of these and dental records Cpl Huff was identified from among the unknowns interned at Punchbowl.
This past week one of my Marines had the privilege of accompanying Mrs. Hattie Johnson of the POW/MIA Section, Headquarters Marine Corps Casualty Office, to brief the family of Cpl Huff on the news of the recovery of their fallen family member.
Sgt Smith and surviving family members of Cpl Huff.
Sgt Smith will also escort Cpl Huff from Hawaii next month when he is finally returned home to his family. We at 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines are looking forward to being part of this occasion. 
Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj
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  1. Nice piece of work by the JPAC and kudos to Sergeant Smith. He got a lucky break on what is usually a mean duty roster. Family notifications and survivor assistance is some of the most stressful duty you guys will encounter. Mike, take good care of these Marines; we know you head this roster and we appreciate it.

  2. If anyone’s not familiar with the conditions of that battlefield during the Korean War, “Give Me Tomorrow” would serve as a decent primer.

    Another would be “Last Stand of Fox Company”.

    – Grimmy

  3. be603, yeah those people put in some good work. Mrs. Johnson hadn’t been home in weeks as she’d been traveling all over the States briefing families.

    Zail, I was informed sometimes families don’t accept the findings and sometimes chase Casualty Assistance folks out. I am also told this has never happened to Marine Corps Casualty Office. Hopefully it’s because we are doing it right.

    Grimy, Give Me Tomorrow is a great book and is about the very battle Cpl Huff took part in if I am not mistaken. George Company moved through Cpl Huff’s (Item Company’s) position and found only 20 Marines left still able to fight.

  4. thanks for the book rec. found a used one at Amazon. Ordered aalong with “The Darkest Summer: Pusan and Inchon 1950: The Battles That Saved South Korea–and the Marines–from Extinction”
    Sloan, Bill;

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