The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Army Pfc. David C. Wilkes, 20, of Saline, Missouri, killed during the Korean War, was accounted for on June 24, 2019.
(This identification was initially published July 1, 2019.)
In late 1950, Wilkes was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion 32nd Infantry Regiment, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. Approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 South Korean soldiers assembled into the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), 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. Wilkes was initially reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, when he could not be accounted for after the withdrawal, but his status was later amended to killed in action.
On Sept. 14, 1951, a set of remains, designated Unknown X-15682 was reportedly recovered from an isolated grave in the vicinity of the Pungnyrui Inlet on the Chosin Reservoir. The remains were processed for identification at the Central Identification Unit at Kokura, Japan. When identification attempts failed, they were transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu and were interred as Unknown.
On July 10, 2014, DPAA disinterred Unknown X-15682 and sent the remains to the laboratory for analysis.
To identify Wilkes’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of the Army for their partnership in this mission.
Today, 7,609 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by Korean officials, recovered from Korea by American recovery teams or disinterred from unknown graves. Wilkes’ name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl along with 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 family contact information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.
Wilkes will be buried Oct. 19, 2019, in Lakewood, Washington.