Korean War soldier identified after 67 years

The body of Cpl. Roy John Hopper, who was killed in an ambush in 1950 during the Korean War, was recently identified. (Photo:  daytondailynews.com)

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The body of Cpl. Roy John Hopper, who was killed in an ambush in 1950 during the Korean War, was recently identified. (Photo: daytondailynews.com)

A Korean War soldier with Dayton ties has had his remains identified after 67 years, and his family is bringing him home for burial.

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Cpl. Roy John Hopper was killed in action in Korea on July 31, 1950, according to an obituary  with Newcomer's Funeral Home.

Killed in an ambush in Korea less than a month before his 22nd birthday, he was initially buried in Korea before being interred in Hawaii.

It was only after decades of effort that the U.S. Army was finally able to fully identify Hopper’s body.

“The Army continued to use all the technology at their disposal through the years, to ensure that he would one day be reunited with his family and be buried with them in attendance,” the obit says. “In June of 2017 they were finally able to identify his remains using a new DNA process.”

According to the American Battle Monuments Commission, Hopper was a member of Headquarters Co., 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. He was killed in action while fighting the enemy in South Korea on July 31, 1950.

"His remains were not recovered at the time," the commission said. "Through the work of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the remains of Cpl. Hopper were accounted for in 2017. His name remains permanently inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial."

Hopper was born to Richard and Helen (Schultheis) Hopper Aug. 25, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Newcomer says.

He joined the Merchant Marines in 1944 when he was 16, with his father’s permission, and was stationed at Catalina Island. He then joined the Army in 1947, where he deployed to the Republic of Korea.

“While leading a detail bringing ammunition to the front, he and his men were ambushed,” his obit said. “Roy stayed behind to allow his men to escape, and he was killed by a sniper in Chinju, Korea. His men all survived this ambush. Roy was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously for his courageous actions that day.”

Hopper was recovered without identification and was buried in the 25th Infantry Division Cemetery in Masan, Republic of Korea, as an "unknown."

He was then moved to the U.S. Army’s Central Identification Unit in Japan and then again to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1955, where he was buried with full military honors.

On April 6, Hopper will be laid to rest at Dayton National Cemetery surrounded by his family, and with full military honors. His remains will be escorted from Honolulu, Hawaii to Dayton, by his great-nephew, Sgt. Christopher “Ryan” Reynolds.

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