The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, accounted for from the Korean War, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Rufus L. Ketchum, 38, of Superior, Wisconsin, accounted for on April 23, will be buried August 14 in his hometown. In late November 1950, Ketchum was a member of Medical Detachment, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces. As the Chinese attacks continued, American forces withdrew south. The U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured, killed or missing in enemy territory. McKinney was reported missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950, when he could not be accounted for after the withdrawal to Hagaru-ri.
Ketchum’s name did not appear on any prisoner of war lists and no returning Americans reported Ketchum as a prisoner of war. Based on the testimony of a surviving member of his unit who witnessed Ketchum’s death, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Dec. 6, 1950.
In September 2001, a joint U.S. and Korean People’s Army (KPA) recovery ream conducted a Joint Recovery Operation (JRO) in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, Changjin County, Chagjin District, South Hamgyong Province, North Korea, based on information provided by two Korean witnesses. During the excavation, the recovery team recovered material evidence and possible osseous remains of at least seven individuals. The remains were subsequently sent to the laboratory for identification.
To identify Ketchum’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA and Y-chromosome (Y-STR) DNA analysis, anthropological analysis, and material and circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the government and people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and looks forward to the continued fulfillment of the commitment made by President Trump and Chairman Kim on the return and recovery of U.S. service members in North Korea.
Today, 7,691 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. Ketchum’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing in Honolulu, 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.
Ketchum’s personnel profile can be viewed at https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000004PGRHEA4