Army Master Sgt. James G. Cates of Philadelphia was east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea in November 1950 when his company was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces.

A month later, with 1,500 wounded service members evacuated, the remaining soldiers had been either captured, killed or went missing in enemy territory. With Cates unaccounted for, he was declared Missing in Action. It was one of the most harrowing battles of the Korean War.

The Defense Department announced May 31 that, after nearly 70 years, the remains of the 29-year-old have been identified and he’ll be coming home.

The announcement was may be the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

In late November 1950, Cates was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st

Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. It was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. The American forces withdrew south with the Chinese attacks continuing.

By Dec. 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members. The remaining soldiers had been either captured, killed or went missing in enemy territory.

Because Cates could not be accounted for by his unit at the end of the battle, he was reported missing in action as of Dec. 3, 1950.

In September 1954, as part of Operation Glory, where the United Nations Command, Chinese People's Volunteer Forces and Korean People's Army exchanged war dead at Munsan-ni, South Korea. The United Nations received 25 sets of remains reported to have been recovered from isolated burial sites east of the Chosin Reservoir. 

The remains were sent to the Central Identification Unit for attempted identification.  One set, designated X-15903 was declared unidentifiable.  They were then transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP,) known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu and were interred as Unknown.

In February 2013, following thorough historical and scientific analysis, X-15903 was disinterred from the Punchbowl and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

To identify Cates' remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as

circumstantial and material evidence.  Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Ray Crocker of the American Legion post confirmed that Sgt. Cate’s name is on the monument in DeWeese Memorial Park. He is listed as MIA.

It is not immediately known if Sgt. Cates has any surviving relatives.

A U.S. Army press release stated that Cates will be buried Sept. 21, 2019, in a location to be determined.