The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today
that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, were recently identified and
will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. Clement Thibodeaux Jr., 18, of Baton Rouge, La., will be buried Sept. 10, in
Church Point, La. In late Nov. 1950 elements of the 25th Infantry Division (ID) and 35th Infantry
Regiment (IR) were fighting with units of the Chinese army north of the Ch’ongch’on River in
North Korea. In the course of the fighting, and the subsequent withdrawal by U.S. forces, the
25th ID suffered extensive casualties, with numerous men being taken captive by the Chinese. It
was during this withdrawal, Thibodeaux was captured by enemy forces.
In 1953, returning U. S. personnel told debriefers that Thibodeaux had been captured and
taken by enemy forces to a POW camp known as “Death Valley.” Soldiers also stated that in Jan.
1951 Thibodeaux died from malnutrition and pneumonia. His remains were not among those
returned by communist forces in 1954.
In 2005, a joint U.S. and Democratic People's Republic Korea (D.P.R.K.) team excavated
a site in Unsan County in North Korea and found multiple remains. The remains subsequently
were repatriated to the U.S. and were sent for scientific identification.
In the identification of Thibodeaux, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command (JPAC) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used
circumstantial evidence, and forensic identification tools such as dental comparisons and
mitochondrial DNA – which matched Thibodeaux’s brother.
Today, more than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the Korean War.
Identifications continue to be made from the remains that were returned to the United States,
using forensic and DNA technology.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing
Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.