CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A West Virginia soldier killed in the Korean War was accounted for and will be honorably laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery after his remains were unidentified for 70 years.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced Friday that Army Cpl. Paul Mitchem, 20, of Avondale, was accounted for on Feb. 11, 2021.
Mitchem was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment and 24th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on July 7, 1950, after his unit sustained heavy casualties while battling the North Korean Army near Ch’onan, South Korea. The unit was forced to retreat, and Mitchem’s body was not found.
The U.S. Army issued a presumptive finding of death in 1953, three years after remains were found near Ch’onan in October 1950. However, the American Graves Registration determined those remains unidentifiable in 1954.
The unidentified remains were buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mitchem was declared non-recoverable in 1956.
In July 2019, the remains were exhumed from the Punchbowl and analyzed at the DPAA Laboratory in Hawaii. Scientists identified the remains as Mitchem’s by using dental, anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis.
Mitchem’s name is listed on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl. A rosette will be placed by his name to signify he was accounted for.
Mitchem will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery at a date that will be determined later.
For family and funeral information, call the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490. Mitchem’s personal profile can be viewed on the DPAA’s website.