The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He is Pfc. Donald M. Walker, U.S. Marine Corps, of Springfield, Ky. He will be buried Dec. 7 in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
Walker was assigned to the Service Company, 1st Service Battalion, of the 1st Marine Division deployed near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. On Nov. 27, 1950, three Communist Chinese Divisions launched an attack on the Marine positions. Over the next several days, U.S. forces staged a fighting withdrawal to the south, first to Hagaru-ri, then Koto-ri, and eventually to defensive positions at Hungnam. Walker died on Dec. 7, 1950 as a result of enemy action near Koto-ri. He was buried by fellow Marines in a temporary United Nations military cemetery in Hungnam, which fell to the North Koreans in December 1950. His identity was later verified from a fingerprint taken at the time of the burial.
During Operation Glory in 1954, the North Korean government repatriated the remains of 2,944 U.S. soldiers and Marines. Included in this repatriation were remains associated with Walker’s burial. The staff at the U.S. Army Mortuary in Kokura, Japan, however, cited suspected discrepancies between the biological profile from the remains and Walker’s physical characteristics. The remains were among 416 from Operation Glory subsequently buried as “unknowns” in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (The Punchbowl) in Hawaii.
In April 2007, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command exhumed remains from The Punchbowl believed to be those of Walker. Although the remains did not yield usable DNA data, a reevaluation of the skeletal and dental remains led to Walker’s identification.
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.