Savannah man seeking answers after family member MIA after Korean War

Savannah man seeking answers after family member MIA after Korean War

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Bill McAbee never knew his uncle James McAbee but has spent a lot of time wondering about him.

The Korean War had just started in 1950 and the 22-year-old corporal had only been in combat for one day when he went missing after a battle with the enemy.

"There were 225 men in the company and over half were either killed, prisoners or MIA's. James was (designated) MIA and unfortunately, there was no record of him ever surviving past that day," says McAbee.

About a month later, after a receiving a letter that Corporal McAbee was missing in action, there was more bad news for his family. Corporal McAbee's older brother, Lt. Charles McAbee, was killed when his fighter jet crashed.

The family held on to hope that James might still be alive. His dog tags were found, but they had no idea what happened to him.

"They felt for a while that he might have discarded his identification and become a POW but he was never sighted anywhere," said McAbee.

Corporal James McAbee is just one of 7,762 service members still missing from the Korean War alone. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has never given up trying to find them.

Extensive research is used to locate sites where those unaccounted Americans may be. Any evidence found is transported back to the DPAA lab where the painstaking job of making an identification begins. Bill McAbee and some of his cousins have given DNA, something the DPAA advises everyone who has an unaccounted relative from the military to do.

The process is lengthy, but last year the DPAA did account for 164 service members who had been missing—giving their families some closure.  Bill McAbee hopes that one day he'll know the rest of his uncle's story, but regardless he says the search for answers has given him more respect for all who have served.

"I'm always impressed that the young folks that are defending our country, there's no difference between them and the folks that were there in 1950," he said.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the DPAA will be in Charleston to meet with families of loved ones who are unaccounted for from past conflicts, going back to World War II.  Family members will be briefed on the efforts to bring their loved ones home.

You can register to attend at or call 808.448.4500 ext. 3159. The event will be held at the Marriot at 170 Lockwood Blvd. and starts at 9 a.m. and will conclude at 4 p.m.

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