North Korea in July handed over what are thought to be the remains of 55 USA servicemen who were killed during the Korean War.
Mattis told Pentagon reporters that experts moved swiftly on analyzing those two sets of remains, as they thought they had a good chance of identifying them because of where they were located and other information.
"One of the reasons that we were able to identify them so quickly [was because their remains] were more complete than usual so it gave us more to look at and narrow down the identity with", Dr. John Byrd, Laboratory Director of the Defense POW/MIA Accountability Agency said.
"We noticed. within a few seconds of opening up the box, and pulling him out, that we think this individual is African American and tall and slender", Byrd said.
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Mattis later confirmed that two sets of remains had been identified "right now", but said "we're working" on additional identifications.
The U.S. estimates that some 5,300 American soldiers' remains have yet to be recovered from North Korea.
The repatriation of the remains followed a summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, during which Kim agreed to send home some of America's war dead.
North Korea in July handed over what are thought to be the remains of 55 U.S. servicemen who were killed during the Korean War. Nevertheless, the Forensic anthropologists are now combing all the remains in a secure facility in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
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Sampling for DNA analysis has been carried out so far on about half of the boxes of remains, they said.
Byrd acknowledged that it could take months for the next round of identifications.
The July transfer coincided with the 65th anniversary of the 1953 armistice that ended fighting between North Korean and Chinese forces and South Korean and USA -led forces under the U.N. Command.
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