Marine killed in Korea 70 years ago identified, to be buried in Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 8, 2021

SALISBURY — The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency on Wednesday announced the remains of a Marine killed in 1950 in Korea have been identified and will be interred in Salisbury’s National Cemetery.

Pfc. Henry E. Ellis, a 22-year-old Marine from Roanoke, Virginia, was killed in action on Nov. 30, 1950, while defending his convoy in modern-day North Korea. He was a member of Headquarters Company, First Service Battalion, First Marine Division. Ellis will be buried Aug. 23.

He was first accounted for in September, but the announcement was delayed until his family could receive a briefing on his identification. He was initially declared non-recoverable, and it wasn’t until 2012 that researchers believed they could identify his remains.

His body was not recovered immediately after he died, but many Marines who died during the war were buried in the United Nations Cemetery at Koto-Ri as forces withdrew. North Korea returned the remains of 4,200 people in 1954 as part of Operation GLORY. Of the remains, 3,000 individuals were Americans and none of them were associated with Ellis.

His case was labeled non-recoverable in 1956.

There were 848 remains from the returned group of 4,200 interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, known as the Punchbowl. Ellis, originally labeled X-13631, was among them.

In 2012, academics from what’s now the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency conducted research to exhume Ellis’ remains after narrowing down the identity to two Marines.

Six years later, Ellis remains were exhumed along with the remains of seven other unknown people for study under the Korean War Identification Project.

The remains were taken to a lab at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to be studied. There, scientists conducted dental and anthropological analysis along with DNA analysis. Combined with circumstantial evidence, they identified the remains as Ellis.

Ellis’ name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name at the Courts of the Missing to indicate he has been accounted for.

There are still thousands of Americans who went missing or were killed in Korea who have not been accounted for.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency directed the Post to contact the Marine Casualty Office for more information about Ellis and his service. The office did not immediately respond to request for more information.

To see the most up-to-date statistics on recovery efforts for those unaccounted for from the Korean War, visit

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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