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The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Cummings, 20, of Manistique, Michigan, will be buried March 4 in Clarksville, Tennessee. In late November, 1950, after several months of battle alongside the United Nations Command and Republic of Korea against the Korean People’s Army, an estimated 300,000 soldiers of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces attacked the unit during an allied movement north near the Yalu River. Facing constrictive terrain, poor weather conditions and being outnumbered, the advancing U.S. forces were facing unfavorable circumstances.
The 187th regiment was moved to positions along the Chongchon and Kuryong rivers in order to preserve lines of communication. The regiment assembled a reconnaissance patrol to gather enemy information on Nov. 29, 1950, when it encountered an enemy ambush near Hajoyang, North Korea. Following this ambush, Cummings was declared missing in action.
Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned 208 boxes of commingled human remains to the United States, which we believe to contain the remains of at least 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents included in the repatriation indicate that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where Cummings was believed to have died.
In the identification of Cummings’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence, dental comparison, and forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA analysis, Y-chromosome short tandem repeat DNA analysis and autosomal (nuclear) DNA testing, which matched a sister and a brother.
Today, 7,762 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using advances in technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered by American teams.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, or on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Cummings' son, Rex, spoke with Local 3 news earlier today.
"When I got that call, it was just astounding; I couldn't breathe for a second, to be honest with you," said Cummings. "It's been an amazing ride ever since then and it will bring the family closure. My dad still has a brother who is in his early 80s and a sister still living. It will be closure for them... So, I kind of thought we probably won't know, at least, in my lifetime and that's what was so amazing when I got the call after Thanksgiving of last year that they had found him, or found his remains. After 66 years, I will get to say, 'Dad, you're finally home.'"
Obituary courtesy Neal-Tarpley-Parchman Funeral Home:
Robert Roy Cummings, went missing in action November 29, 1950, at the age of 20, while honorably serving his country in Korea. His remains have been recovered and returned to Clarksville, TN for burial.
Robert was born May 18, 1930, in Michigan, to the late Walter Cummings and Grace Cummings. He was also preceded in death by one sister, Eileen Belanger and one brother, Dick Cummings.
Robert is survived by his wife, Melba Hudgens Cummings of Clarksville, TN; son, Rex (Deborah) Cummings of Clarksville, TN; one sister, Sandy (Dennis) McMahon of Lynnwood, WA; one brother, Raymond "Skip" (Sylvia) Cummings of Bay City, MI; three grandchildren, Joshua (Jessica) Cummings, Amy (Billy) Morrison, and Meagan Cummings, all of Clarksville, TN; four great grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 4, at 10:00 AM, at the Chapel of Neal-Tarpley-Parchman Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Resthaven Memorial Gardens, where full military honors will be rendered. Visitation will be Friday, March 3, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM, and Saturday, March 4, from 9:00 AM until the hour of service, at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Fisher House, 652 Joel Drive, Fort Campbell, KY 42223; or to the Wounded Warrior Project, 223 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, Suite 301, Nashville, TN 37203.
Arrangements are entrusted to Neal-Tarpley-Parchman Funeral Home, 1510 Madison Street, Clarksville, TN 37040; (931) 645-6488. Online condolences may be made at www.nealtarpleyparchman.com.