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 Cpl. Ernest L.R. Heilman, 19, of Greenup, Kentucky, accounted for on Aug. 19, 2016, will be buried June 8 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. On Feb. 13, 1951, Heilman was a member of Battery B, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, and was declared missing in action when his unit was breaking a roadblock in the vicinity of Hoengsong, South Korea.
Reports provided by enemy forces indicated that Heilman was captured and died at Changsong prisoner of war camp in North Korea. Based on this information, the Army declared him deceased on June 8, 1951.
In September 1954, a set of remains reportedly recovered from the prisoner of war cemetery at Camps 1 and 3, Changsong, North Korea, were sent to the Central Identification Unit for attempted identification. The remains were designated X-14236 and were declared unidentifiable. They were then transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu and were interred as Unknown.
After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, it was determined that X-14236 could likely be identified. After receiving approval, X-14236 was disinterred on June 13, 2016 and sent to DPAA’s laboratory for analysis.
To identify Heilman’s remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, all which matched Heilman’s records; as well as circumstantial evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission.
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. Heilman’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the other MIAs 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.