(CBS) — The sons of Army Master Sgt. Charles McDaniel were given their father’s Korean War dog tag on Wednesday. It was returned from North Korea along with the last week.
McDaniel, an Army medic, was lost in action on November 20, 1950. An eyewitness said he believed McDaniel was killed in action, but his death was not confirmed by the U.S. government.
He left behind his two sons, ages 2 and 5 at the time, and his wife.
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) laboratory in Hawaii is attempting to identify the remains of what are believed to be American soldiers lost in the Korean War — including what may be McDaniel’s remains. And while that lengthy process is ongoing, McDaniel’s sons have been given some peace of mind with the return of their father’s dog tag.
The sons discussed the return of their father’s dog tag at a news conference in Arlington, Virginia.
“Even though I was a small boy and have very little memory of my father…I sat there and I cried for a while,” McDaniel’s eldest son and namesake, Charles McDaniel, a veteran himself, said of receiving the phone call regarding his father’s dog tag.
A WWII veteran from Indiana, the elder McDaniel was traveling with the 3rd Battalion along the Yalu River on the Chinese-Korean border when his unit was ambushed by Chinese forces.
So far, McDaniel’s sons are the only individuals who have been given some indication that the repatriated remains may include a loved one.
“We’re really, in one small sense, the most fortunate because we’re the only ones that have a name now,” McDaniel Jr. said.
Dr. John Byrd, Director of the DPAA, cautioned that because the North Koreans admitted many of the remains had been interspersed, there is no way of knowing yet whether the remains with which the stainless steel dog tag were delivered actually belong to McDaniel. Both of McDaniels’ sons, however, have volunteered samples of their DNA to aid the identification process.
According to Byrd, most of the returned remains contain long bone portions and material possessions, like helmets and boots.
CBS News’ Robert Legare contributed to this report.