News Releases

Soldier Missing From Korean War Accounted For (Burke)

16-001 | January 08, 2016

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

U.S. Army Pfc. David S. Burke, 18, of Akron, Ohio, will be buried Jan.15, in Rittman, Ohio. On Nov. 25, 1950, Burke was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, when his unit was attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces (CPVF), near the border between China and North Korea. Under pressure, outnumbered and surrounded by CPVF roadblocks, they were unable to escape. After suffering heavy casualties, the unit was forced to surrender to the CPVF, and four officers and 136 enlisted soldiers were taken prisoner, including Burke. Following the attack, the U.S Army declared Burke missing in action.

In September 1953, as part of a prisoner of war exchange known as “Operation Big Switch,” returning American soldiers who had been held as prisoners of war reported that Burke had died between March and May 1951 from malnutrition. A military review board later amended his status to deceased.

Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned to the United States 208 boxes of commingled human remains, which when combined with remains recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea, account for the remains of at least 600 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents included in the repatriation indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the area where Burke and other members of his unit were held at POW Camp 5.

To identify Burke’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence, three types of DNA analysis, including mitochondrial DNA analysis, Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat DNA analysis, as well as autosomal DNA analysis, which matched his brothers, and dental analysis, which matched Burke’s records.

Today, more than 7,800 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered by American recovery teams.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call (703) 699-1420.