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 Cpl. Donald L. Baer, 20, of Racine, Wisconsin, will be buried November 11 in his hometown. In July 1950, Baer was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, engaged in combat operations against forces of the North Korean Army in and around the city of Taejon (now Daejon), South Korea. On July 19, 1950, the North Koreans initiated a large-scale attack on the city in an attempt to destroy U.S. forces. Following the battle, Baer could not be accounted for and was declared missing in action as of July 20, 1950.
In June and July 1952, the 392nd Quartermaster Graves Registration Company (GRC) conducted searches of the area associated with the Division’s battles. The remains that were recovered from the battlefield were sent to the Central Identification Unit in Kokura, Japan for identification efforts. No remains were associated with Baer. Additionally, no repatriated American POWs reported that Baer had been captured with another prisoner of war. Based on the lack of information regarding his status, the U.S. Army declared him deceased on Dec. 31, 1953.
In February 1951, the 565th GRC recovered five sets of U.S. remains while conducting recovery efforts in the vicinity of Kujong-ni, South Korea. One set of remains was identified and the rest were designated as Unknowns, including “Unknown X-452.” In May 1955 it was determined the remains were “unidentifiable” and were transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, known as the “Punchbowl.”
After a thorough historical and scientific analysis of information associated with X-452, it was determined that the remains could likely be identified. After receipt of approval, the remains were disinterred from the Punchbowl on Aug. 14, 2017, and sent to DPAA for analysis.
To identify Baer’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission.
Today, 7,716 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. Baer’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site 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.