Another soldier’s remains returning ‘home’ to the region after 69 years

Stevie Rose never met her uncle, Roger Lee Woods, but through the letters he mailed to his father, she understood what was going through his mind during the Korean War.

Twice in his hand-written letters, Woods asked about his sister, JoAnn, and the baby she was carrying. That girl was Rose, who was born in April 1950, one month after one of the letters arrived.

“That’s when I realized I was part of this story,” she said.

Army Pfc. Woods, a native of Hamilton County, was last seen on July 29, 1950. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency recently announced Woods, 18, who was killed during the Korean War, was accounted for on May 21, 2019.

In the summer of 1950, Woods was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Regiment, fighting against members of the Korean People’s Army. Sixty-nine years ago he was reported missing in action in the vicinity of Kochang, South Korea. Absent of evidence of continued survival, the Department of the Army declared him deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953.

According to historical reports, the 565th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company recovered a set of remains initially designated as Unknown X-274 Miryang and later as Unknown X-274 Tanggok from an isolated grave in the vicinity of Kochang Town, South Korea. A tag that accompanied the remains claimed the remains had been removed from a single grave on Oct. 29, 1950.

On April 20, 1955, the remains were declared unidentifiable and were subsequently transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu and were interred as an Unknown.

In August 2018, following thorough historical and scientific analysis, X-274 was disinterred from the Punchbowl and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

To identify Woods’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, and circumstantial and material evidence.

Today, 7,652 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by Korean officials, recovered from Korea by American recovery teams or disinterred from unknown graves.

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

Throughout the process of waiting to hear if her uncle’s body ever was recovered, Rose said the search came to “a dead-end.” That’s when she asked her uncle for assistance.

“It’s about time you come home,” she told her uncle. “You need to help us.”

Then when Rose was notified, she became “unglued,” she said.

“I ran around the house and my husband thought I done lost my mind,” she said. “I kept crying. I couldn’t stop crying for two or three days. Ever since I’ve been overwhelmed with excitement.”

There was a pause on the phone: “He’s coming home,” she said.

His body will be flown to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport on Tuesday, then transported to the Evans Funeral Home, 1944 Ohio 28, Goshen. A visitation will be held at Evans Funeral Home, from 5-8 p.m. July 10. Funeral service will be at 11 a.m. July 11. Burial and military honors will be held immediately following the funeral service at Goshen Cemetery.

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