The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from the Korean War, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. David Baker, 18, of Gary, Indiana, accounted for on January 31, will be buried June 23 in Hobart, Indiana. In late November 1950, Baker was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, positioned in the vicinity of Yongbyong, North Korea. Baker’s battalion moved north and lost contact with two other regiments. On Nov. 25, 1950, 3rd BN met with enemy resistance and was attacked by Chinese People’s Volunteer Force. The battalion suffered heavy casualties and Baker was declared missing in action as of Nov. 28, 1950, when he could not be accounted for by his unit. Later reports indicate that baker was likely captured by the enemy during battle.
Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service hoped to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Baker’s remains were not included, and he was declared non-recoverable.
In December 1993, North Korea turned over 34 boxes of remains, which were sent to the Central Identification Laboratory in Honolulu. One box was reportedly exhumed from Tongju-ri, a village near Prisoner of War Camp 5. While no returning prisoners of war reported Baker as a prisoner, where the remains were recovered indicated he had been captured.
To identify Baker’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched his family, as well as anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,702 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams. Baker’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
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, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420/1169.