RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - The remains of an Army soldier missing in action from the Korean War have been identified as a Wyoming man.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reports it is Army Cpl. DeMaret M. Kirtley of Kaycee. Kirtley was 19 years old when he died near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.
In late November 1950, Kirtley and about 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team, which was deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when it was attacked by overwhelming numbers of Chinese forces.
As the Chinese attacks continued, American forces withdrew south. The U.S. Army evacuated approximately 1,500 service members; the remaining soldiers had been either captured, killed or missing in enemy territory.
Kirtley was reported missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950, when he could not be accounted for after the withdrawal. He was last seen in the vicinity of Hagaru-ri, Changjin County, Hamgyeong Province, North Korea.
The Army declared Kirtley dead three years later because his name wasn’t on any POW list and none of the returning POWs knew of him.
In 1954 the remains of 2,944 military men were returned to the U.S. under Operation Glory. Most were identified but 416 couldn’t be matched to missing soldiers.
Last year, a set of those remains – marked X-15900 Operation Glory - was disinterred and sent to the DPAA lab. The lab used mitochondrial DNA analysis, dental and anthropological analysis to positively identify the remains as those of Kirtley.
According to DPAA, 7,675 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.