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Condensed KCOMZ Summary
Condensed from Graves Registration Division, Korean Communications Zone (KCOMZ) Historical Summary,
Part of the Armistice Agreement signed in Panmunjom in June of 1953 called for the exchange of military
war dead on both sides. In the months that followed, members of the U.S. Graves Registration Division in
Korea met repeatedly with UN and Eighth Army officials to work out the details for how such an exchange
might be effected. The resultant draft plan was approved and signed by all the major parties on the Allied
side in early July 1954, and was forwarded to Communist officials. They, in turn, signed the new agreement
on July 20th. Together, they also agreed that the exchange of deceased personnel should formally commence on
1 September 1954 and end no later than 30 October, if possible.
Implementation of Korean Communications Zone (KCOMZ) Op Plan 14-54, better known as "Operation Glory",
was put into effect on 22 July 1954. United States engineers furnished by the United Nations Command,
Military Armistice Commission Support Group, constructed a railhead and reception area. UN Command also
provided a battalion from the 1st Signal Unit to establish communications. The Transportation Corps made
plans for the evacuation, by rail, of all deceased military personnel on our side. The Quartermaster Corps
issued all necessary supplies and materials, and the KCOMZ Quartermaster Graves Registration proceeded with
the disinterment of all enemy remains of deceased military personnel interred in South Korea.
In the month leading up to the actual exchange of military remains, the Quartermaster Graves Registration
Committee held three additional meetings with the Communist side to discuss the approximate number of
deceased involved, examine the signatures of officers who signed receipts for the remains, and to decide how
both sides would proceed from the railheads to the reception areas within the demilitarized zone. They were
also to discuss the means of identification, use of vehicles in the prescribed areas, and ground rules for
photographers and news correspondents.
On 30 August 1954, the disinterment of all enemy deceased military personnel was completed, and all
remains delivered and stored at "Glory Railhead," near Munsan-ni, Korea. At 0930 the next day (September
1st) the Chief of KCOMZ Graves Registration Division met his North Korean counterpart at the reception area
within the demilitarized zone, and received the first 200 remains of deceased UN military personnel. At 1300
hours, these remains were evacuated to "Glory Railhead", where a ceremony was held. In attendance were
several major figures from the United Nations Command, U.S. Far East Command, Military Armistice Commission,
and representatives from the Republic of Korea Army. A religious ceremony was conducted by chaplains of the
Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths.
The exchange of deceased military personnel between the United Nations in South Korea, and the Communists
in North Korea, continued daily, except Sundays, until 21 September 1954. On that day, North Korean
representatives turned over 123 remains, and advised UN Graves Registration officials that there were no
more to be delivered. The United Nations group continued delivering enemy deceased until 11 October. A final
tally showed that 4,023 UN deceased personnel had been received from the North Koreans, and that 13,528 had
been delivered to them.
Of the 14,074 remains of deceased enemy military personnel disinterred in the territory of the United
Nations Command, 546 were determined to be civilians who died while interned in prisoner of war camps. The
government of the Republic of Korea requested that the 546 remains be delivered to them for further delivery
to the next of kin, who reside in South Korea. Of the 546 remains, seven were determined to be unknown
civilians. The seven remains were interred in Pusan, Korea. The remaining 539 remains were delivered to the
Republic of Korea government on 30 October 1954.
At the last formal meeting on October 11th, both sides agreed to continue searching in remote areas, and
if additional remains were discovered, they would be returned prior to the end of the month, if possible.
The UN Chief of the Graves Registration Committee further advised the North Koreans that the exchange
facilities would be left standing for as long as was felt necessary.
For their part, the North Koreans announced that they had disinterred 78 more bodies, which they
forwarded to UN officials the next day (October 12th). Then again 66 additional remains were handed over on
November 9th. This brought to 4,167 the total number of United Nations deceased military personnel turned
over by the North Koreans during Operation Glory.
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Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command
During Marty O'Brien's research for casualty information, he found the following from the Joint POW/MIA
The KPA/CCF turned over 4,167 "sets of remains" during Operation Glory. Anthropologists determined that
4,219 individuals were actually represented. Of the 4,219 remains received, 3,944 were determined to be
American. When anthropologists completed their work in February 1956, they had identified all but 416
individuals received during Glory. These individuals were subsequently interred in the Punchbowl Cemetery
located in Honolulu, HI. In March 2003, one individual was identified as Ronald Lilledahl, a Marine who
fought at the Chosin Reservoir.