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Remains of Massachusetts soldier who died as POW in Korean War return home

<i>WCVB</i><br/>The remains of a soldier from Massachusetts
The remains of a soldier from Massachusetts

By WCVB Staff

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    BOSTON (WCVB) — The remains of a soldier from Massachusetts, who died as a prisoner of war 71 years ago, are back in his home state.

U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph J. Puopolo’s remains were flown to Boston Logan International Airport on Tuesday and then escorted to Magrath Funeral Home in East Boston.

Puopolo, an East Boston native, was a member of C Battery, 38th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division Artillery, 8th U.S. Army during the Korean War.

The 19-year-old was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, as his unit attempted to withdraw from North Korea after the Battle of the Ch’ongch’on River.

In 1953, four prisoners of war who returned during Operation Big Switch reported Puopolo had been a POW and died in February 1951 at Prisoner of War Camp No. 5.

The following year, North Korea returned the remains recovered from War Camp No. 5 to the United Nations, but none of those remains were identified as Puopolo.

In 2018, efforts began to identify 652 unknown sets of remains buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

Using DNA and dental analysis, the remains designated Unknown X-14430 were identified as Puopolo on Aug. 23 by the Defense POW/MIA accounting agency.

Puopolo’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the more than 7,500 Americans who remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to Puopolo’s name to indicate he has been accounted for.

His remains will be interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden on Saturday.

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