WASHINGTON – The remains of an Arkansan who died in the Korean War are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced Tuesday that the remains of Army Sgt. Donald L. Baker, 20, of Thornton (Calhoun County) will be buried June 19 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Baker’s remains were accounted for in January of this year, nearly 68 years after he was reported missing in action.
In September 1950, Baker was a member of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. He was reported MIA on Sept. 6, 1950, as a result of fighting that occurred between his unit and enemy forces near Haman, South Korea. (A 1950 newspaper article found in an online database reported Baker as missing in action and identified him as the son of Mrs. Lola Ceaser, of Thornton).
Following the battle, the U.S. Army Graves Registration Services (AGRS) created Field Search Cases (FSCs) to track unaccounted-for service members, assigning Baker to FSC 182-F. AGRS teams searched battlefields for remains and interred recovered remains at temporary cemeteries in South Korea. FSC 182-F contained 34 associated individuals who corresponded to Baker’s unit. Because of the lack of evidence to verify identity, some of the remains recovered in late September 1950 were buried as “Unknowns.”
On Jan. 6, 1951, a set of unidentified remains recovered southwest of Haman, labeled as “Unknown X-209 Masan,” were interred at United Nations Military Cemetery (UNMC) in Masan, South Korea.
In January 1955, the remains were declared to be unidentifiable and were transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery in the Pacific (NMCP) in Honolulu, known as the Punchbowl.
In 2016, based on research regarding two individuals who remained unaccounted-for from FSC182-F, analysts from DPAA determined that Unknown X-209 could be associated with one of the missing soldiers from FSC 182-F. DPAA disinterred Unknown X-209 on Oct. 30, 2017 and sent the remains to the laboratory for analysis.
To identify Baker’s remains, scientists from DPAA used chest radiograph comparison, which matched his records, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, and circumstantial evidence. DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission. The number of Americans that remain unaccounted for from the Korean War stands at 7,702.
Baker’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the NMCP in Honolulu along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or find them on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa.