Body of South Dakota soldier killed in Korean War to be buried in hometown

WHITE RIVER (KSFY) - The body of a White River man killed in the Korean War is being returned home.

Sgt. Philip J. Iyotte will be buried October 25 in his hometown. The Department of Defense made the announcement Thursday.

Iyotte was 21 years old when he was captured by Chinese forces. He was taken to a prison camp, where he later died.

His body was returned to the U.S. after the war, but remained unidentified until recently. Scientists used new DNA technology to identify the remains back in August.


The following is a press release from the Department of Defense, detailing Iyotte's service and the eventual recovery process:

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from the Korean War, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Sgt. Philip J. Iyotte, 21, of White River, South Dakota, will be buried October 25 in his hometown. In February 1951, Iyotte was a member of Company E, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, assigned under 8th Army. Iyotte was declared missing in action on Feb. 9, 1951, when he was captured by Chinese forces during Operation Thunderbolt, which took place from January 25 to February 1.

Operation Thunderbolt’s objective was to conduct a reconnaissance in force across the 8th Army front, to advance 30 miles to the south bank of the Han River. Sometime during the engagement, Iyotte was captured and moved to Camp 1 at Changsong.

Following the war, several returning American prisoners of war reported that Iyotte died sometime around Sept. 10, 1951 and was buried at the main camp.

Although the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service planned to recover American remains that remained north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone after the war, administrative details between the United Nations Command and North Korea complicated recovery efforts. An agreement was made and in September and October 1954, in what was known as Operation Glory, remains were returned. However, Iyotte’s remains were not included and he was declared non-recoverable. A set of remains marked as “Smith, Paul R.” and labeled Unknown X-14265 were processed for identification, but an association could not be made and they were returned to the United States for burial.

After a thorough historical and scientific analysis, DPAA requested the exhumation of 22 unresolved individuals, including Iyotte. Unknown X-14265 was disinterred from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, on May 8, 2017 and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

To identify Iyotte’s remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, including dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, all which matched Iyotte’s records; as well as circumstantial evidence.

DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this recovery.

Today, 7,718 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously returned by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams. Iyotte’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at an American Battle Monuments Commission site along with the others who are missing from the Korean War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

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