The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. Donald C. Durfee, 19, of Painesville, Ohio, will be buried March 6, in Rittman, Ohio. In November 1950, Durfee was assigned to Company M, 31st Infantry Regiment, 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), when his unit was deployed to the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. During the battle his unit was overwhelmed by Chinese forces, which caused the unit to begin a fighting withdrawal south. It was during this battle that Durfee was reported to have been killed in action on Dec. 2, 1950.
Following the war in 1954, as part of prisoner exchange, known as Operation Glory, the remains of Durfee were not returned. In late 1954, Chinese forces repatriated 25 cases of remains from Durfee’s last known location on the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir.
A military review board in December 1955, declared the remains as unidentifiable and at that time the remains were transferred to Hawaii to be buried as unknown in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the “Punchbowl.”.
In 2013, due to advances in technology, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) determined that the possibility of identifying the remains now existed. The unknown remains were disinterred for analysis and possible identification.
In the identification of Durfee, scientists from JPAC used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as dental comparison and radiograph comparisons, which matched his records.
Today, 7891 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American teams.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.