Vice President Mike Pence watches as the remains of soldiers who fell during the Korean War arrive at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii (Image: Susan Walsh via PA)
The remains of dozens of presumed US war dead returned to Hawaii on Wednesday after they were handed over by North Korea.
The US military believes the bones are those of American servicemen and potentially servicemen from other United Nations member countries who fought alongside the US on behalf of South Korea during the Korean war.
US vice president Mike Pence spoke at a ceremony before the flag-draped containers carrying the remains were taken off planes in sets of four.
"Whosoever emerges from these aircraft today begins a new season of hope for the families of our missing fallen," he said.
"Hope that those who are lost will yet be found. Hope that after so many years of questions, they will have closure."
Each container was accompanied by one Marine, one sailor, one soldier and one airman. They set the caskets gently on risers lined up inside the hangar as Mr Pence stood watching with his hand over his heart.
Some of the invited guests wiped tears from their eyes during the procession.
Following the ceremony, US president Donald Trump tweeted;
Incredibly beautiful ceremony as U.S. Korean War remains are returned to American soil. Thank you to Honolulu and all of our great Military participants on a job well done. A special thanks to Vice President Mike Pence on delivering a truly magnificent tribute!
Efforts to recover remains in North Korea have been fraught with political and other obstacles since the war's end. Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea unilaterally handed over 208 caskets to the US, which turned out to contain remains of far more than 208 individuals, although forensics specialists thus far have established 181 identities.
A series of US-North Korean recovery efforts, termed "joint field activities", between 1996 and 2005 yielded 229 caskets of remains, of which 153 have been identified, according to the Pentagon.