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Korean War remains ID'd as Medal of Honor recipient

Apr. 10, 2013 - 08:58PM   |  
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WASHINGTON, Ind. — The remains of a Korean War Medal of Honor recipient from southern Indiana that were recovered nearly a decade ago with the cooperation of North Korea have been identified and will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery this month, the Defense Department said Wednesday.

The remains of Lt. Col. Don C. Faith Jr. of Washington, Ind., who was posthumously awarded the highest U.S. military honor for valor during the battle of Chosin Reservoir in late 1950, will be buried April 17, the department said.

Faith was part of a battalion that was advancing along the eastern side of Chosin Reservoir in North Korea in late November 1950, when Chinese forces encircled and attempted to overrun the U.S. position, the department said. When Faith's commander went missing, he took charge of the unit, withdrew it to a more defensible position, and led an assault on a Chinese position.

Eyewitness reports and other records compiled after the battle “indicated that Faith was seriously injured by shrapnel on Dec. 1, 1950, and subsequently died from those injuries on Dec. 2, 1950. His body was not recovered by U.S. forces at that time.”

More than half a century later, in 2004, a joint team of personnel from the U.S. and North Korea and “surveyed the area where Faith was last seen. His remains were located and returned to the U.S. for identification,” the department said in a news release.

Scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory determined they were Faith's through mitochondrial DNA matching Faith's brother and other means.

Although current U.S.-North Korean relations are tense amid militaristic statements by the Asian nation's new leader, Kim Jong Un, in the past the two countries have worked jointly to repatriate the remains of U.S. soldiers who died in the Korean War. The remains of a western Indiana soldier, Pfc. Henry Martin Gustafson of Williamsport, were among those of about 400 American servicemen returned by North Korea in 1993 from mass burial grounds. His remains were identified in 2011 and buried in Williamsport.

More than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War, the department said.

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