WASHINGTON D.C. (CBS) – North Korea is fulfilling a promise made during last month’s historic summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
For the first time in more than 10 years, North Korea is returning the remains of U-S troops killed during the Korean War. In a tweet, President Trump thanked Kim and said: “this will be a great moment for so many families.”
One by one, boxes wrapped in blue united nations flags were taken off a U.S. military plane in South Korea. In them are the possible remains of 55 U.S. servicemen killed during the Korean War.
The transfer follows through on a promise North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un made to President Trump during their Singapore summit last month.
“I asked for it today and we got it. That was very last minute. So the remains will be coming back.”
A formal repatriation ceremony is set to be held in South Korea on Wednesday. Then the remains will be flown to Pearl Harbor for forensic tests to identify them.
Today’s gesture coincides with the 65th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
“He had the woman he wanted, he had the family he wanted,” says Rick Downes.
Rick Downes was three years old when his father Hal went off to the Korean War. His air force bomber went down on a mission over North Korea. He’s been missing ever since.
“I call it the wound that never heals . . . After a while you get used to having it and it finds a place within you, and you go on, you live life,” says Downes.
He’s cautiously optimistic his father will one day be returned.
“You have to really watch your heart here//because this all could just fizzle. . . This could be nothing. It could be everything,” says Downes.
The remains returned today are believed to be some of more than 200 North Korea has. But about 7,700 U.S. soldiers are still listed as missing.
These are the first remains given to the U.S. since 2007 when six sets were returned. The North Koreans have expressed a willingness to resume joint search missions with the U.S. to help find more remains, those had stopped in 2005 because of North Korea’s nuclear program.