Army Sgt. 1st Class Phillip C. Mendoza was killed during the Korean War, but his remains never made it home — until now.
Mendoza's remains arrived at San Francisco International Airport Wednesday morning, decades after he was reported missing and more than a year after his remains were turned over by North Korea.
Mendoza, 27, of Anthony, New Mexico, was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, while his unit fought enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). His remains could not be recovered after the battle.
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In July 2018, North Korea turned over 55 boxes believed to contain the remains of American military members who were killed during the war. Those remains were transported to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii to be identified.
Mendoza's remains were positively identified and he was listed as accounted for on Aug. 9, according to DPAA.
"To identify Mendoza’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence," according to DPAA. "Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis."
Mendoza served as an artilleryman with Battery D, 15th Anti-Aircraft Artillery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, according to DPAA.
He will be buried Friday in Dixon, a city in northern Solano County.