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By August 1953, Army documents reviewed by the AP indicate, five soldiers had confirmed that Hodapp had died at Mining Camp No. 1. It was a temporary camp also known as “Death Valley,” according to Lewis H. Carlson’s oral history, “Remembered Prisoners of a Forgotten War.”

Harry Borie, a medic, was captured in the same battle as Hodapp and was held initially at the Mining Camp. Now 81 and retired after careers in the Army and pharmaceutical sales, Borie doesn’t remember Hodapp. But Army documents suggest he knew him at the time. A report of an Army interview with another former prisoner, reviewed by the AP, said he learned about Hodapp’s death from Borie.

POWs at the Mining Camp were packed side by side on dirt floors in 10-by-12 huts, Borie said from his home in Williamstown, N.J. Dysentery, beri beri and other diseases ravaged the men. What little food they did get was sorghum that cooked into paste; some just let themselves die.

“We used to call it ‘give-up-itis’,” said Borie. “They just would say, ‘I don’t want to take it anymore,’ and just give up.”

Another former POW the Army interviewed, Keith Stenson, who died in 1981, said Hodapp expired en route to another camp, listing as cause of death, “Too weak from starvation — could not eat.”

One of Hodapp’s cousins, who had lived near Stenton, recalled meeting a man at a neighborhood party who had known him. Joan Tacl couldn’t remember Stenson’s name but she said the man retrieved a boot from his house and under the insole, he had scratched Hodapp’s name and date of death — a secret record of a comrade’s fate.

“He said Artie had lost a lot of weight because he wouldn’t smoke marijuana to choke down the food,” Tacl said. The drug grew wild near the camps and many prisoners smoked it, historian Carlson said.

“We weren’t raised that way, and he would have just thought, that’s not right,” Meyers said.

The Army declared Hodapp’s remains “nonrecoverable” in 1956 and efforts to retrieve American remains were stymied through decades of the Cold War. But between 1990 and 1994, North Korea handed over 208 boxes of remains. Hodapp’s were among 17 boxes transferred on July 12, 1993.

“It’s incredibly laborious, and sadly it doesn’t happen as fast as it does on these TV shows,” Defense spokesman Larry Greer said.

Last year, Congress ordered the Defense Department to identify 200 sets of remains a year — more than double the current number — by 2014.

Greer calls it a promise “that we will leave no man behind.”

Ultimately, Artie Hodapp wasn’t.