The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of two servicemen, who were missing since the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
The first soldier is Army Cpl. Donald A. Therkelsen, 23, of Chicago. In July 1953, Therkelsen was assigned to Medical Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division (ID). On July 16, 1953, Chinese forces launched a massive attack, commonly known as the Battle of Kumsong, centered along the Kumsong River, North Korea. The attack caused Therkelsen and elements of the 3rd ID to withdraw to a more defensible position. Therkelsen was reported missing in action July 17, 1953. It was reported by fellow soldiers that Therkelsen died while providing aid to a fallen soldier during the battle.
The second soldier is Army Pfc. George L. Rights, 23, of Winston-Salem, N.C. In February 1951, Rights and elements of Battery B, 15th Field Artillery (FA) Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division (ID), were supporting the Republic of South Korea when the 15th FA was attacked by Chinese forces near Hoengsong, South Korea. Elements of the 2ID suffered more than 200 casualties, and more than 100 men were taken as prisoners during this attack. Following the battle, Rights was reported as missing in action. Returning U.S. Soldiers from a POW exchange reported that Rights was captured by the Chinese and died in May 1955 while being interned in Bean Camp, Suan, North Korea.
Between 1990 and 1994, North Korea turned over 208 boxes to the United States containing human remains, believed to represent more than 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the Korean War. DNA of the remains were tested with the DNA of relatives from both Therkelsen and Rights and were positively matched.