Honoring His Father, Serving His Community

Honoring His Father, Serving His Community

Staff Sgt. Robert Louis Kalkofen, now 90, served during the Korean War era as a logistics manager for the Marine Corps. His son, Bob Kalkofen, today serves as vice chair of the Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial to honor his father’s service, and that of the thousands of other service men and woman who fought in the war.

“I never served in the military, myself, but I do consider myself to be a patriot,” said the younger Kalkofen. “I got involved in the memorial because I have a special connection to that branch of the service (Marines) and I wanted to support that. The Korean War veterans are important to us.”

Kalkofen, a retired funeral director, has been engaged with the downtown Kansas City memorial for 11 years, 10 of which as a member of the board of directors.

“I think the biggest reason for my involvement are the two plaques on the lawn, on the south side of the memorial, where there are 900 names of Missouri citizens killed in action in Korea. Those people made that sacrifice so that we, and the South Koreans, could remain free. We can’t let them fade into history without being named.”

The motto “Never forget the forgotten war” is a bittersweet reminder that the 34,000 Americans who died in Korea from 1950 to 1953 were not as revered as soldiers from other wars had been.

“World War II had ended, and then five years later the Korean conflict came to be,” Kalkofen said. “There was not the buildup there was for World War II. All the weapons, the machinery, even the uniforms, were left overs. There wasn’t the commitment to Korea that there was for
World War II.”

The sacrifices made were as real as any war, however, and is remembered annually in Kansas City on Flag Day. Speakers at the memorial, the only certified Korean War Veterans memorial in Missouri, typically come from the military. Volunteers participating come from service groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sea Cadets, and Boy Scouts.

“The American Legion band plays every year and they’re wonderful. It’s a very patriotic ceremony,” Kalkofen said.

“People really should come out and see it.”

The Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial is located in Washington Square Park, 174 East Pershing Rd., in downtown Kansas City, in the area of Union Station, Crown Center and the World War I museum.

Written By: Frank Cook

Missour Korean War Veterans Memorial Kansas City Missouri Night

A Lifetime of Service to Community & Country

A Lifetime of Service to Community & Country

In service to both community and country, Larry Phillips began when he joined the Army and served in Vietnam and Thailand. He continues that service today as vice chairman-elect of the Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial in Kansas City.

Phillips, now retired from the Kansas City Transportation Authority, became involved in the memorial as a result of his membership in the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“A friend asked if I could help set up chairs at an event at the memorial, and I did. The VFW is a service organization that helps in the community and helping at the memorial seemed like a good way to do that. As time went on, I was just doing more and more things there.”

Phillips said he finds the memorial, located in downtown near Union Station, is always a good place to be. “It’s wonderful for the Korean War veterans to come and visit.”

Like many other hoping to erase the conflict’s reputation as the “forgotten war,” Phillips actually has no direct connection to the military campaign where nearly 34,000 Americans, including 900 Missourians, lost their lives. But the soldiers who fought there deserve to be remembered for their valor and sacrifice.

Among his roles at the memorial’s June 14, 2022, Annual Flag Day Flag Retirement ceremony, he was chosen to make a presentation about those who have been Prisoners of War or are Missing in Action (POW-MIA). According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, there remain more than 7,500
U.S. military still unaccounted for from the Korean War.

When Phillips retired from the military, he joined the municipal transportation authority, first as a bus driver, then moving to management, becoming a dispatcher, and eventually Assistant Superintendent of Transportation.

The Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial, certified as the official memorial for the state of Missouri, is located in Washington Square Park, 174 East Pershing Rd., in downtown Kansas City, in the area of Union Station, Crown Center and the World War I museum.

 

Written By: Frank Cook

“The Korean War is the ‘forgotten war,’ and that means the men who fought there are forgotten soldiers. I didn’t want that to happen.”

No Forgotten War, No Forgotten Soldiers

NO FORGOTTEN WAR, NO FORGOTTEN SOLDIERS

“The Korean War is the ‘forgotten war,’ and that means the men who fought there are forgotten soldiers. I didn’t want that to happen.”

The words are those of Missouri State Representative Mike Haffner, a principal supporter of the Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial in Kansas City, and the memorial’s campaign to become the official Korean veterans’ memorial for the state.

Although Haffner has neither relatives nor acquaintances who fought in the war, he was not unaware of the fighting that occurred from 1950 to 1953 in which nearly 34,000 Americans,
including 900 Missourians, lost their lives.

The Cass County resident is a retired Navy pilot who commanded a combat squadron of F/A-18 Hornets in the skies above New York in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He also is a
graduate of the Navel War College in Washington, D.C., and was a student in combat strategies and tactics.

“I learned how harsh and brutal that war was, and the sacrifices that were made,” Haffner said. “It was called the ‘Forgotten War.” But the soldiers should never be forgotten.

Haffner said he chose to become directly involved in the certification effort after being approached by State Senator Mike Cierpiot of Lee’s Summit. “Sen. Cierpiot knew I was military
and a combat veteran. He asked if I would help get certification passed in the House. I said absolutely yes.”

The war memorial and park were completed in 2011 and won certification from the legislature and governor’s office in 2020.

Haffner acknowledges that many facets of American history, including those commemorated by statues and monuments, are now being challenged nationwide. “We are in a phase of history
where we find problem with every aspect of society,” he said. “But it would be a profound mistake to forget the sacrifices that have been made.”

The war memorial’s governing board of directors expressed its appreciation to Haffner for his work on behalf of the monument.

“Representative Haffner’s leadership was vital to our efforts to achieve certification,” said Debra Shultz, chairwoman of the board. “Certifications means we can host funding raising activities for the purpose of educating the public. Hopefully, we’ll be able to draw more attention to the memorial and more visitors to Kansas City.”

The Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial is located in Washington Square Park, 174 East Pershing Rd., in downtown Kansas City, in the area of Union Station, Crown Center and the
World War I museum.

The Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial in downtown Kansas City

The Memorial – Thanks Senator Mike Cierpiot

The Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial in downtown Kansas City owes a debt of gratitude to Missouri State Senator Mike Cierpiot, a Lee’s Summit, MO., legislator and businessman who led the effort to have the memorial named the official Korean War memorial for the state.The Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial in downtown Kansas City owes a debt of gratitude to Missouri State Senator Mike Cierpiot, a Lee’s Summit, MO., legislator and businessman who led the effort to have the memorial named the official Korean War memorial for the state.

Cierpiot’s involvement came through a friend-of-a-friend who urged the senator to take up the challenge of having the memorial certified as the official state tribute to the 900 Missourians who died in Korea from 1950 to 1953.

To make that recognition happen, an act of the state legislature was necessary.

“There are a number of Korean War memorials around the state – one in St. Louis and other places – but most of those are dedicated to the men in their particular counties who died in the war,” Cierpiot said. “The only memorial that lists all the Missourians who died is here in Kansas City. We wanted to acknowledge that.”

While construction on the memorial and park was completed in 2011, certification didn’t come until several years later at the urging of the memorial’s board of directors.

Asking the legislature to designate the Kansas City memorial as the official state site (Senate Bill 656) was “a pretty easy lift,” Cierpiot said, with little opposition. The certification was approved in 2020.

“Senator Cierpiot’s leadership was crucial to the memorial’s recognition,” said Debra Shultz, chairman of the memorial. “The certification will really allow us to honor the Missourians and all the Americans, and Koreans, who gave up their lives for freedom.”

Cierpiot said that, like many others, he had not been aware of the memorial garden.

“It’s really quite an impressive thing,” he said. “It’s a shame it’s not better known.”

Construction of the memorial was funded by private donations on land donated by the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department. The state designation will help the non-profit by allowing it to apply for specialized grants. Money raised will be used for increased sculpturing at the site,
and to enhance awareness of the memorial and urge visitors to include the park when touring Kansas City.

The memorial is located in Washington Square Park, 174 East Pershing Rd., in downtown Kansas City, in the area of Union Station, Crown Center and the World War I museum.

 

Author: Frank Cook

Korean War Accounting

Korean War Accounting

Since 1982, the remains of over 450 Americans killed in the Korean War have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors. This number is in addition to the roughly 2,000 Americans whose remains were identified in the years following the end of hostilities, when the North Korean government returned over 3,000 sets of remains to U.S. custody.

Over 7,600 Americans are still unaccounted-for from the Korean War, hundreds of whom are believed to be in a “non-recoverable” category, meaning that after rigorous investigation DPAA has determined that the individual perished but does not believe it is possible to recover the remains. On rare occasions, new leads can bring a case back to active status.

DPAA and our partners continue to build on over sixty years of investigative efforts on the Korean peninsula. Each year, DPAA plans multiple investigations of loss sites in South Korea to collect evidence, investigate leads, and conduct excavations.

Korean War POW Camps

Korean War POW Camps

Throughout the war in Korea, U.S. and United Nations (UN) troops were taken as Prisoners of War (POW) by the North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) or Chinese Communist Forces (CCF). There were many camp and holding points littered across North Korea; different camps became more populated at different times of the conflict.

The Korean War began with the sudden advance of the NKPA through the unprepared South in July of 1950. U.S. forces sent to South Korea during this period were organized into the “Pusan Perimeter,” a defensive formation around the critical harbor at Pusan, South Korea. Men captured during this period were marched north by stages through Seoul and Pyongyang to the Manpo Camp on the South bank of the Yalu River in North Korea.

Following the Inchon Landings and breakout from the Pusan Perimeter in September of 1950, U.S. and UN forces turned the tide of the conflict and began themselves pushing into North Korea. As the NKPA retreated farther north, they were forced to evacuate their prisoners with them. In late October of 1950, over 800 POWs left Manpo for village camps closer to the Chinese border near Chungung, known as the Apex Camps. This movements became known as the “Tiger Death March,” so called for the brutal treatment that the prisoners suffered at the hands of the North Korean colonel who was in charge, himself nicknamed “The Tiger.” Many prisoners died during this 100-mile march through difficult terrain. The “Tiger Group” stayed at the Apex camps until October of 1951, when they were moved to more permanent camps further south on the banks of the Yalu River. At that point, less than half of the prisoners who had left Manpo a year earlier were still alive.

By November of 1950, U.S. and UN forces had advanced precipitously close to the North Korean border with China. It was then that the CCF launched a large-scale surprise attack against UN troops near Unsan, Kunu-ri, and the Chosin Reservoir. Overwhelmed, U.S. forces in North Korea were forced on a withdrawal southward. POWs taken by the CCF during this period were marched to holding villages in the Pukchin-Tarigol Valley and Kanggye. The winter season made life for prisoners even more desperate. These men were gradually marched to newly completed permanent camps on the banks of the Yalu River. The first of these camps, known as Camp 5, began taking on POWs in January of 1951. Camp 1 opened in April of that year, and Camp 3 that summer. Specialized camps were eventually erected in this area, Camp 4 for sergeants and Camp 2 for officers and aviators.

Following the CCF’s intervention, the communists used their renewed momentum to push back into South Korea, capturing Seoul for a second time in Spring of 1951. Men were captured at Hoengsoong, Chorwon, Kumhwa, and in the mountains east of Chunchon. These POWs were marched to large holding camps near Suan, North Korea, known as the “Bean Camp” and the “Mining Camp.” Some of the men held here were sent to specialized interrogation camps at “Pak’s Palace” and “Pike’s Peak.” Most who were deemed fit enough to travel were forced to march north to Camp 1 and Camp 5.

In July of 1951, UN had dissolved the communist offensive and brought the conflict to a tense stalemate in the center of the peninsula, roughly along the modern-day Demilitarized Zone. Fewer men were captured at this time, as the two sides battled for incremental gains in territory to improve their position in ongoing negotiations to end the war. UN troops who were taken POW at this time were taken through Suan to Camp 1 or Camp 5.

Though held in many different places, American POWs in North Korea suffered through similarly harsh treatment. They received little to no food or water and were often forced to trek long distances through severe weather. Those who collapsed or could not continue on these marches were killed by guards. Those who died along march routes were often given isolated burials at unrecorded locations, if buried at all. Disease ran rampant at the camps, with many prisoners succumbing to malaria and beriberi due to the inadequate medical treatment they received. Those who died at camps were buried at nearby camp or hospital cemeteries. Many of the remains returned to U.S. custody during the post-war exchange of dead, Operation Glory, were recovered from these burial sites near POW camps. U.S. investigators have been given very limited access to prospective burial sites in North Korea.

Content sourced from: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Operation Glory

operation glory

Over the course of the Korean War, American casualties were buried in a variety of settings, including centralized United Nations (UN) cemeteries, local battlefield cemeteries, and prisoner of war (POW) camp cemeteries across North Korea. In addition to these, service members’ remains were known or suspected to be in isolated locations across the country near battlefields, POW march routes, and aircraft crash sites.

When the armistice was negotiated in 1953, it was initially agreed that each side should recover their own dead from the others’ territory. As a result of a number of factors, however, it was eventually decided that that remains would be recovered by the opposing side and exchanged at a neutral location near the DMZ. This exchange, which occurred during a few short months in the fall of 1954, became known as Operation Glory.

Due to time and logistical considerations, it was initially agreed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) and the Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) would only recover and return remains from known cemeteries in North Korea. Remains were returned from sites such as Hungnam #1, Koto-Ri, Kaesong, Sukchong, Pukchong, and Pyongyang (no remains were returned from Hungnam #2). In addition, the D.P.R.K. and CCF also returned believed-to-be American remains from a number of known POW camps and isolated burial locations. These included POW Camps #1 and #3 and Camp #5, and isolated burials relating to battlefield losses, air losses, and POW march routes. While some sets of American remains were returned with name associations and related material evidence, other sets were returned as unknowns, unaccompanied by any identifying information

In total, UN forces recovered and returned approximately 14,000 sets of D.P.R.K. and CCF remains and received around 4,200 sets of remains believed to belong to American service members

Following the exchange, the remains were sent to a U.S. Army mortuary facility in Kokura, Japan, to be examined by mortuary technicians and anthropologists. As the staff at Kokura processed the Operation Glory remains, they began to note a number of discrepancies between the names and recovery locations provided by the D.P.R.K. and the CCF. Although the staff at Kokura used advanced forensic techniques and a revolutionary computer punch card system to assist them in their work, these discrepancies dramatically complicated the identification efforts. Although the vast majority of remains were identified, it was difficult work, and, for a variety of reasons, the Kokura staff were unable to identify a number of sets of remains

Remains that were believed to be American but could not be identified were buried as unknowns with full military honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP—also known as the Punchbowl), in Honolulu, Hawaii

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and its predecessor organizations have been working to identify these Operation Glory unknowns since the late 1990s. Multidisciplinary teams within DPAA and its predecessor organizations have worked collaboratively to identify and resolve the discrepancies reflected in the Operation Glory returns. As a result of the more than 15 years of research on the parts of numerous historians, anthropologists, dentists, and other analysts, in 2018, DPAA was granted permission to undertake a large-scale project to disinter and identify the more than 300 remaining Operation Glory Unknowns still buried in the NMCP. The planned disinterment project employs a phased approach, beginning with reported UN cemetery burials, progressing to POW camp burials, and ending with isolated burials. The first phase of this project began in the fall of 2018, and Phase Two was initiated in the spring of 2019.

Disinterring Korean War Unknowns

disinterring korean war unknowns

In 2019, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency began disinterring 652 sets of unknown remains associated with the Korean War that had been buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), better known as the Punchbowl. The unknown remains in question were recovered from the Republic of Korea (ROK, South Korea) and Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) in the 1950s and 1960s, and were buried as unknowns after they could not be identified by the traditional forensic processes available at the time

Given the large number of remains, the plan is to disinter the remains in seven phases over the next five to seven years. The phases are based on the geographic region where the remains were recovered and other criteria that provides sequential logic to this complex identification process. Conducting the disinterments in this manner is more efficient and effective as it allows researchers and scientists to focus on sets of individuals with similar history and circumstances of loss. As the remains are identified in this method, it will reduce the potential candidates for subsequent phases, and thereby provide quicker identifications

Each of the seven phases will include unknowns recovered from North and South Korea. The phases are also balanced between sets of remains that are more complete, those that are made up of fewer remains, remains that are not well preserved, or those that have been commingled with other unknowns. The latter group will require more time and resources to identify. DPAA will work with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System–Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFMES-AFDIL) to identify the remains, and NMCP will further refine the exhumation schedule within each phase to balance cases that need additional resources or scheduling due to capacity or logistical considerations

As a result of this effort, the Department will no longer divert resources to trying to work and address individual requests on a by-case basis, a process that had proven both inefficient and frustrating for families, because the remains more often than not turned out to be someone other than their loved one. However, as each unknown is analyzed for identification, all Family Reference Sample (FRS) data on file will be compared against the unknown DNA sample, therefore providing identification of individuals who may have been thought to be in later phases.

U.S. service members assigned to the DPAA participate in a disinterment ceremony held at the NMCP, Honolulu, Hawaii, Dec. 17, 2018. The ceremony was part of DPAA’s efforts to disinter the remains of unknown service members lost during the Korean war. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Seth Coulter)
Jim Horton, Director, Punchbowl NMCP, speaks to personnel assigned to the DPAA and distinguished visitors prior to a disinterment ceremony held at the NMCP, Honolulu, Hawaii, Jan. 8th, 2019. The ceremony was part of DPAA’s efforts to disinter the remains of unknown service members lost during the Korean war. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Seth Coulter)
U.S. service members assigned to the DPAA participate in a disinterment ceremony held at the NMCP, Honolulu, Hawaii, Dec. 17, 2018. The ceremony was part of DPAA’s efforts to disinter the remains of unknown service members lost during the Korean war. DPAA’s mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting of missing personnel to their families and the nation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Seth Coulter)
U.S. service members assigned to the DPAA participate in a disinterment ceremony held at the NMCP, Honolulu, Nov. 5, 2018. The ceremony was part of DPAA’s efforts to disinter the remains of unknown service members lost during the Korean War. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Lloyd Villanueva)
Emily Wilson, a forensic anthropologist with the DPAA, accessions disinterred remains of a service member lost during the Korean War at DPAA's laboratory facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 7, 2019. Disinterred remains are often still wrapped in wool blanket bundles when removed from the caskets. Remains are prepared, cleaned, and dried before laboratory analysis begins. (DoD photo by Paul Emanovsky)
Star Lavin, a laboratory technician with the DPAA, calibrates a Computerized Tomography (CT) machine at DPPA's laboratory facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on October 15, 2018. DPAA scientists use radiographic comparison techniques to overcome challenges posed by damaged DNA from Korean War remains. (DoD photo by Dean Karamehmedovic)

The DMZ Campaigns

the dmz campaigns

In June 1951, the Korean War shifted. The frantic war of movement that led the United Nations Command and North Korean and Chinese forces up and down the peninsula was over. A bloody and difficult United Nations Command defense near the 38th parallel, led by the United States, took its place. Eighth Army Commander James Van Fleet observed that “continued pursuit of the enemy was neither practical nor expedient.” United Nations Command forces would no longer seek to unify the peninsula. Instead, they aimed to raise the pressure on the North Koreans and Chinese to accelerate peace negotiations.

Fighting alongside the 38th parallel from the summer of 1951 to July 1953 was exceptionally costly in lives and treasure. Over 40 percentof U.S. Marine casualties in the entire war took place during this period of fighting. U.S., Chinese, and North Korean forces fought over places with names like Bloody Ridge, Heartbreak Ridge, and Pork Chop Hill. All the while the peace talks moved at a glacial pace as negotiators fought over prisoner of war repatriation and other issues.

Armistice negotiations, started in July, came to a pause in August 1951 after Chinese and North Korean leaders recessed them. In that breach, Van Fleet sent the X Corps and Allied forces to capture key positions near the Punchbowl, Bloody Ridge, and Heartbreak Ridge. While North Korean forces fought hard to keep their positions, they could not stem the U.S. onslaught. Truce talks resumed at the end of the campaign in October 1951.

Concessions by Chinese and North Korean leaders at the peace table over the division of Korea encouraged the hope that a peace was at hand in the last days of 1951. U.S. forces sought an active defense that involved patrolling, small-scale fighting, and air strikes into the spring months of 1952. Significant casualties would be endured in these smaller engagements.

By the summer of 1952, the pace of fighting increased. In June 1952, the 45th Infantry Division launched OPERATION COUNTER in an effort to take positions at a higher elevation. Successful execution of COUNTER led to the capture of Old Baldy and Pork Chop Hill, among others. These outposts became contested areas, as Old Baldy allowed wide surveillance of the area and Pork Chop was a part of Old Baldy’s security. U.S. forces endured many casualties taking and then holding these hills over 1952.

Toward the end of the summer 1952, U.S. Marines waged a bitter defense of an outpost that would be named Bunker Hill. On August 8, 1952, a Chinese company pushed a squad of Marines from the 1st Marine Division off a nearby hill, Outpost Siberia. Marines on the ground knew they could not allow Siberia to be lost forever as it enabled the Chinese to more precisely fire artillery and mortars at the Marine position. Back-and-forth fighting over Siberia led Marine leaders to look to Bunker Hill as they believed it would help put pressure on Siberia and would grant Marines the ability to watch movement behind Chinese outposts. The Marines captured Bunker Hill at approximately midnight August 11, 1952.

Initial success for the Marines was followed by rigorous Chinese challenges. A reinforced Marine Company turned back a Chinese battalion-sized attack. By late October, Chinese forces focused on the “Hook,” a part of the Main Line of Resistance (MLR) that could give the Chinese direct access to Seoul. On October 26, 1952, the Hook and a number of outposts near it fell to Chinese forces. Two days later, Marine forces broke the Chinese hold on the Hook.

Chinese attacks over the summer of 1952 motivated a new American offensive near Kumhwa. Known as OPERATION SHOWDOWN, the 7th Infantry Division and allied units attacked the Triangle Hill Complex on October 16, 1952. Ferocious Chinese attacks over the rest of the month and into early November denied U.S. and Allied forces a permanent position. Official estimates put U.S. and Allied losses at 9,000 casualties and Chinese losses at 19,000. As 1952 came to a close, both U.S. and Chinese forces showed their willingness to pay a high price to hold onto outposts at their frontlines.

Chinese assaults of Old Baldy and Pork Chop Hill tested U.S. resolve. From November 1952 to March 1953, Chinese forces conducted raids against these hills and others nearby like T-Bone and Arsenal. By late March 1953, U.S. and Allied Forces lost Old Baldy to Chinese forces. This significant position put much of the Allied position nearby at risk. In April 1953, Chinese forces tried unsuccessfully to push U.S. forces off Pork Chop Hill.

As the Chinese attacked Old Baldy and Pork Chop, they advanced on the Marine controlled part of Korea. On March 26, 1953, Chinese forces overran Outpost Vegas and Outpost Reno, locations a few miles from the Hook. These hills, along with Outpost Carson and Elko, were known as the Nevada Complex. In response to the Chinese attack, the Marines concentrated on Outpost Vegas. On March 28, 1953, the Marines recaptured Outpost Vegas. A month later, the 25th Infantry Division replaced the 1st Marine Division in the area. On May 28, 1953, Chinese forces attacked Turkish allies that were defending the complex. After Carson fell, the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, of the 25th Infantry Division, was put into the fight. The bloody confrontation that followed caused Allied forces to abandon Vegas and Elko.

Progress at the peace table directly related to U.S. and Chinese choices during these campaigns. On the U.S. side, Maxwell Taylor, Commander Van Fleet’s replacement in the 8th Army, questioned costly showdowns when peace seemed so close at hand. For the Chinese, the attacks on U.S. positions could secure a better position at the front as the armistice agreement would solidify where the forces were. Holding hills like Old Baldy and those that made up the Nevada Complex denied U.S. forces valuable surveillance positions. To that end, Chinese forces launched one last large attack on Pork Chop Hill in early July 1953. After a bitter defense by the 7th Infantry Division, U.S. forces retreated from the Hill. On July 27, 1953, the armistice was signed, stopping the war but not ending it. The inconclusive nature of the armistice agreement would cast a shadow over efforts at remains recovery from 1953 to the present.

By the terms of armistice, a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was created between North and South Korea along the 38th parallel north. Within this area are the remnants of key hills and outposts. Despite the location of these confrontations, remains recovery operations have made some progress. North Korean and U.S. military authorities have conducted exchanges of remains and information. In 1954, North Korean representatives returned the remains of over 3,000 Americans under the auspices of Operation Glory. From 1990 to 1994, North Korean representatives repatriated 208 boxes of human remains that Department of Defense scientists estimate may hold over 400 individuals. North Korea provided U.S. researchers with documents and artifacts related to recovery of U.S. remains in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Similarly, the Chinese government has reported information on unaccounted-for remains from their archives. In 2018, the North Korean government turned over an additional 55 boxes reportedly containing remains of U.S. servicemen killed during the war

Research continues at a steady pace in the United States. Specific focus has been given to collecting testimonies from Korean War veterans who might have witnessed the loss of specific. For the Nevada Cities campaign, over 20 veterans have provided testimony to the DPAA. From 2017 to the present, a partner at the Ohio State University has collected testimony from 10 veterans who served on either Elko Hill or Pork Chop Hill. Historians and other researchers have shared their extensive research on the DMZ battles with the DPAA

Actual remains recovery within the DMZ has been modest. North Korea has never allowed any remains recovery missions on their side of the DMZ. The DPAA has recovered some remains from the Allied portion of the DMZ. Further, the DPAA works closely with the South Korean Ministry of National Defense Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification on recovery missions close to the DMZ.

Content sourced from: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Pusan Perimeter

Pusan Perimeter

After nearly a half decade of instability and violence on the peninsula, North Korea attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950. Three days later, the North Koreans captured South Korea’s capital, Seoul. As South Korean forces buckled, the United States decided to intervene, and the United Nations pledged assistance soon after. Ill-equipped and understrength U.S. units took high casualties in the first weeks of the intervention and were quickly forced on the defensive. The series of battles fought around the Pusan Perimeter from August-September 1950 temporarily reversed the course of the war in the U.S.-led United Nation Command’s favor.

On August 1, 1950, the U.S. 8th Army withdrew east of the Naktong River. Behind this river, U.S. and South Korean forces set up a defense perimeter around the port of Pusan, an important logistical hub on the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula. As North Korean pressure built outside of the perimeter, 8th Army Commander Lieutenant General Walton Walker sought a way to divert some of the North Korean troops massing near Taegu where the 8th Army had its headquarters. On August 7, 1950, Task Force Kean launched a counterattack southwest of the Pusan Perimeter. Led by Major General William B. Kean, the Task Force was composed of units from the 25th Infantry Division, 5th Regimental Combat Team, and 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. From August 7 to 14, the Task Force fought a series of engagements against North Korean forces around Masan. Both sides took heavy casualties, including seventy-five American artillerymen that were captured and summarily executed on August 12 in what is known as the Bloody Gulch Massacre. The bodies of many fallen soldiers were unable to be evacuated when Task Force Kean withdrew to its original positions. The fighting around Masan continued until the 8th Army broke out of the perimeter in mid-September.

On the night of August 5-6, 1950, just north of where Task Force Kean was preparing to attack, the North Korean 4th Division crossed the Naktong River on the western edge of the Pusan Perimeter, beginning a two-week engagement known as the First Battle of the Naktong Bulge. A large bend in the river made this section of the perimeter particularly difficult to defend, North Korean forces successfully advanced following their initial surprise attack. U.S. forces counterattacked on August 7, halting the enemy’s advance. After ten days of heavy fighting the remainder of the North Korean 4th Division withdrew over the Naktong. U.S. forces took over fifteen-hundred casualties but had prevented the North Korean Army from penetrating the Perimeter.

Despite these setbacks to the west, the North Koreans kept up the attack. Three North Korean divisions struck north of Taegu but were held back by the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division, and when North Korean forces attacked near the Naktong Bulge to cut off Taegu from Pusan, counterattacks by the U.S. 2nd Division and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade pushed the North Koreans back.

The successful U.N. landing at Inchon on September 15, 1950, forced North Korean forces to withdraw north and allowed the 8th Army to breakout of the Pusan Perimeter the next day. The U.S. defense of the Pusan Perimeter had stopped North Korea from capturing the entire peninsula and bought time for reinforcements to arrive. The divisions that held Pusan took heavy casualties however, and many men lost outside the perimeter were unable to be found when U.S. and U.N forces pushed north in September.

The search for remains in South Korea started before the armistice was signed in 1953. From 1951 to 1956, Army Graves Registration Service and divisional quartermaster units recovered remains for over 25,000 individuals. DPAA maintains a semi-permanent detachment in Seoul which looks for remains year-round. Since the end of the war, North Korean and U.S. military authorities have conducted exchanges of remains and information. In 1954, North Korean representatives returned over 3,000 remains in an exchange known as Operation Glory. From 1990 to 1994, North Korean representatives gave U.S. officials 208 boxes of human remains that Department of Defense scientists estimate may hold over 400 individuals. From 1996-2004 and in 2011, North Korea granted U.S. search teams access to crash sites, battlefields, and prison camp cemeteries. Excavations done in those areas have resulted in the repatriation of over 220 U.S. remains. Outside of disinterments, DPAA has conducted archival research. From 1997 to 1999, North Korea provided the U.S. with documents and artifacts for review. In the U.S., veterans from the 2nd Infantry Division and other units have been interviewed at reunions and other venues.

Efforts to account for service members who went missing during the action at Pusan Perimeter are ongoing.

Content sourced from: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

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