The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Cpl. Donald L. Menken, 21, of Whitesburg, Kentucky, killed during the Korean War, was accounted for Feb. 2, 2022.
In June 1953, Menken was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action after being wounded by artillery shell fragments on June 10 while his unit was guarding Outpost Harry, a position on the main road to Seoul in what is now the Demilitarized Zone. He was never found, nor were any remains recovered that could be identified as Menken. He was declared killed in action on June 11, 1954, and non-recoverable in January 1956.
The American Graves Registration Service Group (AGRSG) was tasked with recovering and identifying remains from the Korean War. The AGRSG went to Outpost Harry to supervise evacuation of the dead. During this time, they did not find any remains that could be identified as Menken. He was also not among the POWs returned during Operation BIG SWITCH in the late summer of 1953 nor among the remains identified from those returned during Operation GLORY in the fall of 1954. However, the AGRSG did find a set of remains that were designated as Unknown X-6039 after they could not be identified. X-6039 was later transported with all unidentified Korean War remains and buried as Unknown at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
In July 2018, DPAA historians and anthropologists proposed a plan to disinter and identify the 652 Korean War unknown burials from the Punchbowl. X-6039 was disinterred Jan. 28, 2019, as part of Phase 1 of the Korean War Identification Project and transferred to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
To identify Menken’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
Menken’s name is recorded on the American Battle Monument Commission’s Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Menken will be buried May 14, 2022, in Ermine, Kentucky.
For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
To see the most up-to-date statistics on DPAA recovery efforts for those unaccounted for from the Korean War, go to the Korean War fact sheet on the DPAA website at: https://www.dpaa.mil/Resources/Fact-Sheets/Article-View/Article/569610/progress-on-korean-war-personnel-accounting/.
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 https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.
Menken’s personnel profile can be viewed at