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Tales of bravery and sacrifice come to light as a record number of war dead are identified

  • ILLUSTRATION BY BRYANT FUKUTOMI / BFUKUTOMI@STARADVERTISER.COM

    The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency made a record 206 identifications this fiscal year.

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    Army Sgt. Eugene Yost was 18 when his unit was overrun by the North Korea People’s Army on a nighttime raid in South Korea in 1950. Yost, of Milaca, Minnesota, was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. His unit was responsible for defending the road from Sanju to Taegu in South Korea. He was last seen on Sept. 3, 1950. He was buried as an “unknown” at Punchbowl cemetery, disinterred in 2017, and identified this fiscal year.

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    Navy Seaman 1st Class Robert V. Young, 23, of Bushnell, Illinois, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941. The Oklahoma received multiple torpedo strikes, causing it to roll over in Pearl Harbor. The attack resulted in the deaths of 429 crew, including Young. He was buried as an“unknown” at Punchbowl cemetery until he was identified with advances in science. He will be buried today in Bardolph, Illinois.

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    Army Master Sgt. Leonard K. Chinn, 34, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was a member of Company D, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, fighting in North Korea in late 1950. As his unit fought off persistent Chinese attacks, Chinn was reportedly captured on Dec. 1, and was held at several temporary prisoner of war camps before being marched to the POW Camp 5 Complex. Several repatriated American prisoners of war reported that Chinn died on April 5, 1951, at Camp 5.

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    Air Force Col. Richard A. Kibbey, 32, who joined the Air Force from New York, served with the 38th Air Rescue Squadron during the Vietnam War. On Feb. 7, 1967, he was a copilot in an HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter on a mission to recover a downed pilot in North Vietnam. After rescuing the pilot, Kibbey’s helicopter was hit by enemy ground fire, resulting in an internal explosion and crash. In 2017 a joint U.S./Vietnamese team excavated a crash site near Dan Hoa Village and recovered Kibbey’s remains.

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    Army Pvt. Donald E. Brown, 24, of Thompson, Iowa, accounted for on June 20, will be buried on Oct. 6 in his home town. In July of 1944, Brown was a member of the 745th Tank Battalion near Cambernon, France. Brown was killed in action on July 28, 1944, when his Sherman tank was destroyed by enemy fire. In 1947, remains were discovered in a tank from Brown’s unit. He was buried as an “unknown” in France. His remains were disinterred in 2017 for identification.

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    Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Merton R. Riser, 19, of Sanborn, Iowa, in November of 1943 was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, when it landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the island of Betio in Tarawa Atoll. Approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Riser, who enlisted at 18 because he wanted to be a Marine, died on the first day of the battle on Nov. 20, 1943.

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    Army Pfc. John W. Martin of New York, who was killed during the Korean War, was accounted for on Monday. Martin was a member of Medical Company, 32nd Infantry Regiment. On Nov. 27, 1950, Chinese Communist Forces launched a massive attack against U.S. and United Nations troops based in the Chosin Reservoir area in northeast North Korea. On Dec. 2, he was reported missing in action during a withdrawal.

The identifications of formerly missing American service members over the past year tell the harrowing stories of bravery and sacrifice that accompanied them across three wars. Read more

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