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. 1st Class Lester R. Walker, 19, of Ferriday, Louisiana, accounted for on Sept. 26, 2017, will be buried April 18 in Downsville, Louisiana. On Sept. 3, 1950, Walker was a member of Battery B, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was declared missing in action in the vicinity of Changnyeong, South Korea, while attached to Task Force Haynes. Based on a lack of information concerning his status, the U.S. Army declared him deceased and his remains non-recoverable.
Despite the efforts of the Army Graves Registration Services (AGRS) and Central Identification Unit (CIU) in Kokura, Japan, more than 800 sets of unidentified remains were buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, as “Unknowns,” including one set of remains designated “Unknown X-2026.”
During the initial recovery of X-2026, the AGRS interviewed several local villagers who stated that in mid-September 1950, two U.S. prisoners were brought to their village. The prisoners reported to the villagers that they had been captured at the Naktong River near Changnyung. The witnesses recounted that the prisoners were killed by enemy forces, then buried by locals several days later.
After a thorough historical and scientific analysis of information associated with X-2026, it was determined that the remains could likely be identified. After receipt of approval, the remains were disinterred from the Punchbowl on Aug. 13, 2017, and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
To identify Walker’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, 7,704 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. Walker’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.