The remains of an Army major from San Diego who died in a POW camp after being captured more than 66 years ago during the Korean War are finally being returned home. Officials with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency -- the agency tasked with recovering and identifying U.S. military personnel killed in past wars -- say the remains of Jack Griffiths will be returned to his family and buried with full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego on Jan. 11.

Griffiths was reported MIA in 1950

Griffiths, who had previously fought in World War II, was a 31-year-old officer with a field military battalion when he was reported missing in action during heavy fighting near the village of Somin-dong, North Korea on Nov.

30, 1950. After an armistice was signed to end the fighting in 1953 the Army declared Griffiths deceased when returning American POWS reported that he had died and had been buried at a prison camp in Pyoktong, North Korea. American POWs were held captive in horrible conditions, often starving, with virtually no medical care and with little to keep them warm during the brutal North Korean winters.

“He died of malnutrition and pneumonia so they were treated badly,” Michael Draper, a friend and neighbor of the Griffiths family, told San Diego television station Fox 5. Draper says that Joe Griffiths, Jack’s son, was overwhelmed upon getting word that his father’s remains had been identified so he had asked him to talk to the media about his father.

“Joe had to become the person that he is without his father, without even knowing where his father was,” Draper said.

The remains of Jack Griffiths were among those returned to the U.S. after the war, but at the time they were determined to be unidentifiable and were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, known as the “Punchbowl.”

Advanced DNA testing used to confirm identification

But in November of 2013 the grave was exhumed and the remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.

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Military officials say using advanced DNA testing, which matched two sisters and a brother, and analyzing dental records, scientists were able to confirm the remains were that of Griffiths.

Officials say 7,764 Americans still remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams.