South Dakota soldier accounted for from Korean War

Melvin J. Little Bear
Melvin J. Little Bear(KOTA)
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 4:40 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced that U.S. Army Pfc. Melvin J. Little Bear, 21, of Standing Rock, S.D., killed during the Korean War, was accounted for July 13, 2022.

In 1951, Little Bear was a member of A Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Feb. 13 after his unit was attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces and conducted a two-day withdrawal from Changbong-ni, South Korea, to Wonju.

Little Bear had been captured and was a prisoner of war at POW Camp No. 1 in North Korea. Repatriated POWs reports and information from Chinese and North Korean forces said he died in captivity on or about July 21, 1951.

During Operation GLORY in the fall of 1954, remains from Changsong, North Korea, where POW Camp No. 1 was located, were returned to United Nations Command, but could not be identified. The remains, designated X-14251 Operaion GLORY, were buried Feb. 16, 1956, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In November 2019, during Phase 2 of DPAA’s Korean War Disinterment Project, X-14251 was disinterred from the Punchbowl as part of the planned exhumation of 23 Operation GLORY burials originating from the Changsong area, and transferred to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii for analysis.

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

Little Bear’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are still missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Little Bear will be buried Sept. 30, 2022, in McLaughlin, South Dakota.