Remains of Edenton man killed in Korean War return home


By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Friday, September 8, 2017

More than 60 years after he was reported missing in action in the Korean War, the remains of an Edenton man are being returned to his family. 

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA, announced this week that the remains of Army Sgt. 1st Class Eugene J. Colley, of Edenton, are being returned to his family. Colley, 48 at the time he was reported missing, will be buried Wednesday in Arlington National Cemetery. The identity of his remains were confirmed after DNA tests of human remains discovered more than a decade ago. 

According to a DoD news release, in late November 1950 Colley was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was part of a regimental combat team that included 2,500 U.S. troops and 700 South Korean soldiers deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when they were attacked by “overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces.”

“By Dec. 2, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured or killed in enemy territory,” the release states. “Following the withdrawal, fighting continued. Because Colley 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.”

Colley’s name was not listed among the lists of prisoners of war and no former POWs had information about him being a POW, the release states.

“Due to the prolonged lack of evidence, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953,” the release states.  

In 2004, during a joint recovery operation along the eastern bank of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, a recovery team discovered the human remains of at least five people, the DoD release states. 

Scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used DNA analysis, plus circumstantial and anthropological science, to confirm his identity, the release states.

According to DPAA, more than 7,700 Americans who fought in the Korea War remain unaccounted for. 

“Colley’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War,” the release states. “A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.”

Learn more about the DPAA at its website dpaa.mil, or at facebook.com/dodpaa.