Remains of Korean War soldier returned home

Posted at 10:22 AM, Nov 02, 2016

A special coming back ceremony was held at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport as the remains of Army Cpl. Roy C. Fink, 20, was returned to his hometown for burial.

Cpl. Fink had been missing near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea since December 2, 1950.

In 1953, Fink was declared deceased by the U.S. Army.  His remains were discovered in North Korea decades later and were then identified by the Department of Defense.

Friends may visit the Lombardo Funeral Home 885 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst on November 3rd from 4-7 p.m.  A funeral service will be held Friday morning at 10 a.m. in the Forest lawn Cemetery Chapel.

The following is information from the Department of Defense about the recovery.

In late November, 1950, Fink was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.  Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was engaged by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. By early December, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured or killed in enemy territory.  Because Fink could not be accounted for by his unit at the end of the battle, he was reported missing in action as of Dec. 2, 1950.

Fink's name did not appear on any prisoner of war lists and no repatriated Americans were able to provide any information concerning Fink as a prisoner of war.  Due to the prolonged lack of evidence, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953.

Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service hoped to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Fink's remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable.

During the 25th Joint Recovery Operation in 2001, recovery teams conducted operations on the eastern bank of the Chosin Reservoir, Changjin County, North Korea, based on information provided by two Korean witnesses.  The site was approximately one kilometer from the 31st RCT's defensive perimeter.  During the excavation, the recovery team recovered possible human remains of at least seven individuals.

To identify Fink's remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial and anthropological evidence, as well as DNA analysis, including mitochondrial DNA, which matched a nephew.