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 Sgt. Ollie E. Shepard, 22, of Hugo, Oklahoma, will be buried February 7 in the Bradley, Oklahoma. In late November, 1950, Shepard was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 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. The American forces withdrew south with the Chinese attacks continuing. By December 6, the U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 wounded service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured, killed or missing in enemy territory. Because Shepard could not be accounted for by his unit at the end of the battle, he was reported missing in action as of Dec. 3, 1950.
Shepard’s name did not appear on any prisoner of war lists and no repatriated Americans reported Shepard as a prisoner of war. Due to the prolonged lack of evidence, the U.S. Army declared him deceased on Dec. 31, 1953.
In September 2004, a joint U.S. and Korean People’s Army (KPA) recovery team conducted a Joint Recovery Operation at a burial site in the vicinity of Twikkae Village, Changjin District, South Hamgyong Province, North Korea, on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir. The site is consistent with the 31st RCT’s location during their withdrawal. Material evidence and human remains were recovered and sent to DPAA for analysis.
To identify Shepard’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched his family, anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and material evidence.
Today, 7,712 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. Shepard’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific 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.