Remains of soldier killed in Korean War return home to St. Joseph after nearly 70 years

Cpl. Frederick Eugene Coon was reported Missing in Action for 68 years before being positively identified on Oct. 28, 2018.

Posted: Apr 22, 2019 3:10 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2019 11:32 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)— The remains of a soldier killed in the Korean War returned home to St. Joseph Monday nearly 70 years after he died. 

Corporal Frederick Eugene Coon was killed in action July 29, 1950, near Geochang, Republic of Korea. He was only 22. 

OBITUARY: Cpl. Frederick Eugene Coon

Cpl. Coon was reported Missing in Action on July 29, 1950, when he was last seen executing a roadblock near the village of Gwonbin-ri, Republic of Korea. 

According to a U.S. military report, in 1950 a local villager reported discovering and burying the remains of two U.S. personnel and one North Korean. They marked the burial site with a sign that stated "Grave of UN dead."

The remains were recovered from a shallow grave in 1952 and later moved to the Central Identification Unit in Korkura, Japan. Evidence from the grave indicated that at least some of the individuals buried carried U.S. military equipment and clothing.

Coon's remains were then transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii and was buried with full military honors as a Korean War Unknown.

In 1956, the U.S. Army declared Coon's remains "non-recoverable" due to an absence of identifying clues found with the remains and incomplete dental information.

VIDEO: Remains of Cpl. Coon return home

For decades after, the Coon family would never know what happened to Frederick. But a breakthrough came about five years ago when Coon's great-niece Stephanie Coon decided to tackle the painstaking task of finding her great-uncle whom she had only known from family stories.

In 2018, the remains of Cpl. Coon was exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, by the Department of the POW/MIA Accounting Agency. After seven months, an anthropologist and historian of the DPAA identified the remains as Cpl. Coon.

On Monday, Stephanie and Coon's nephew, Jerry Coon, stood on the tarmac at Kansas City International Airport to greet Frederick's remains as he finally made it home. He would be 90 if he were alive today.

A visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23 at Rupp Funeral Home for family, friends and fellow veterans to pay their respects. Funeral services will be held at noon Wednesday, April 24 at Rupp Funeral Home. Cpl. Coon will be buried with full military honors at the Leavenworth National Cemetery on Wednesday, April 24 at 2:30 p.m.

Timeline of Cpl. Coon's service and death: 

1948- Enlisted in the United States Army on April 22

1950- Reported Missing in Action by his unit on July 29

1950- Local villager reported discovering, burying the remains in early August of one "North Korean" and two U.S. Service Personnel

1952- 565th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company recovered three sets of remains, transferred to Tanggok for temporary burial.

1953- Continued as MIA status until December 31

1954- Central Identification Unit was investigating 189 unresolved casualties in the general area where soldier X-5272 (Cpl. Coon) was recovered as of May 1954.

1956- U.S. Army declared his remains "non-recoverable" on Jan. 1956

Cpl. Coon was posthumously awarded and decorated with the Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation (Army & Air Force), Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

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