Sacramento, California - On behalf of all Californians, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and First Lady Anne Gust Brown honor Army Cpl. Robert V. Witt, a U.S. serviceman missing from the Korean War.
Earlier this month, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that Army Cpl. Witt's remains have been identified. He will be buried today with full military honors.
Army Cpl. Robert V. Witt, 20, of Bellflower, CA, bravely gave his life in service to our state and nation and the Governor and First Lady extend their deepest condolences to his family and friends. In memorial, Governor Brown ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol. Army Cpl. Witt's family will receive a letter of condolence from the Governor.
The following information was provided by DPAA:
In late November 1950, Witt was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), 7th Infantry Division, historically known as Task Force Faith. The 31st RCT was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. On Dec. 1, 1950, remnants of the 31st RCT began a fighting withdrawal to more defensible positions near Hagaru-ri, south of the reservoir. On Dec. 2, 1950, Witt was reported as missing in action.
In 1953, during the prisoner of war exchanges historically known as “Operation Little Switch” and “Operation Big Switch,” repatriated U.S. soldiers told debriefers that Witt had been captured during the battle and died from malnutrition. His remains were not among those returned by Communist forces in 1954, however.
Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned to the United States 208 boxes of commingled human remains, which we now believe contain the remains of at least 600 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents included in the repatriation indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the area where Witt was believed to have died.
Additionally, in July 2000, a joint U.S./Democratic People’s Republic of Korea team excavated a burial site near Hwaong-Ri Village, North Korea, and recovered human remains.
Scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used forensic tools and circumstantial evidence in the identification of the remains.