The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
They are Sgt. 1st Class George W. Koon of Leesville, S.C.; and Sgt. 1st Class Jack O. Tye of Loyall, Ky.; both U.S. Army. Koon will be buried tomorrow in Leesville, and Tye will be buried Monday in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
Representatives from the Army met with the soldiers' next-of-kin to explain the recovery and identification process, and to coordinate interment with military honors on behalf of the Secretary of the Army.
In late November 1950, Koon was assigned to the Medical Company, 9th Infantry Regiment, and Tye was assigned to Company L, 38th Infantry Regiment. Both were members of the 2nd Infantry Division advancing north of Kunu-ri, North Korea. On Nov. 25, the Chinese Army counterattacked the Americans in what would become known as the Battle of the Chong Chon (River). This combat was some of the fiercest of the war, and the 2nd Division initiated a fighting withdrawal to the south. Koon and Tye were captured by Chinese forces during the intense enemy fire, and subsequently died while in captivity from malnutrition and medical neglect.
In 2002, two joint U.S./Democratic People’s Republic of Korea teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), investigated and excavated a mass burial site located 20 miles northwest of Kunu-ri, along the route taken by captured U.S. POWs being moved to permanent POW camps along the Yalu River. The teams recovered remains at the site believed to be those of several U.S. servicemen, including Koon and Tye.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and JPAC also used mitochondrial DNA and dental comparisons in both Koon’s and Tye’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.