Using new forensic and genetic tools, researchers in Hawaii are working to identify the remains of American soldiers from the Korean War, NPR's All Things Considered reports.
At the K208 lab at Pearl Harbor Hawaii — so named for the 208 boxes of remains sent by North Korea to the US in the 1990s — John Byrd and his colleagues are sorting through boxes of remains as well as a mix of bones gathered from a mass grave.
While the 208 boxes were said to hold the remains of one service member each, they really held more, NPR notes. By testing the mitochondrial DNA of the bones from the boxes and the mass grave, forensic anthropologist Jenny Jin and her colleagues first homed in on whose remains were likely to be among their sample. They then matched similar bones to one another to put together as complete a skeleton as they could.
While dental records and X-rays help determine to whom the bones belonged, Jin and her colleagues also use nuclear DNA to make a match.
"In the 10 years after the first boxes arrived, the military identified just one man a year. Last year alone, Jin's team identified 29," NPR says.