Missouri Korean War Casualty Returned Home 74 Years Later

The remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Charles Ray Patten, 24, of Lebanon, Missouri, killed in July 1950 during the Korean War, were returned home to Missouri in February 2024.

In July 1950, Patten was a member of Headquarters Company, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on July 20, 1950, when U.S. troops were ordered to fall back through Taejon, South Korea, after enemy troops broke through their defensive line northeast of the city.

The withdrawal of U.S. forces from the city was hampered by roadblocks, and to avoid capture soldiers moved off-road and began filtering through the countryside in small groups Due to the fighting, his body could not be recovered at that time, and there was never any evidence that he was a prisoner of war. The Army issued a presumptive finding of death Dec. 31, 1953.

After regaining control of Taejon in the fall of 1950, the Army began recovering remains from the area and temporarily interring them at the United Nations Military Cemetery (UNMC) at Taejon. One set of remains recovered during this period was designated Unknown X-2 Taejon.

A tentative association was made between X-2 and Patten, but definitive proof could not be found, and X-2 was determined to be unidentifiable. The remains were sent to Hawaii where they were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

In July 2018, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) proposed a plan to disinter 652 Korean War Unknowns from the cemetery. On February 24, 2020, DPAA disinterred Unknown X-2 as part of Phase Two of the Korean War Disinterment Project and sent the remains to the DPAA laboratory for analysis.

To identify Patten’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as chest radiograph comparison and circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis.

Corporal Patten is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. His name is also inscribed on the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC, which was updated in 2022 to include the names of the fallen.

“Even the smallest children need to be told about the war and how grateful we are to those who served, and the importance of American involvement so it is not forgotten. We should not forget the war,” Rojas said. “Freedom is never free.”

Written By: Martha Walker

Scroll to Top