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Don D. Dowler Jr. was a United States Army soldier declared missing in action on December 2, 1950 during the Korean War. His remains were returned to US custody on July 27, 2018 and identified September 23, 2021.

Military service

Don Dowler Jr. was born on January 6, 1932 in Iowa. From Clarinda, Iowa, he joined the United States Army and was assigned a Heavy Weapons Infantryman. He became a Private First Class of Company D, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division and he was deployed to the Korean peninsula.

Don's unit took part in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, in which between November 27 and December 13, 1950, the North Korean People's Army and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army recovered northeastern Korea and caused the UNC to retreat. In the ensuing chaos, Don was reported as missing in action on December 2, 1950. Over 17,000 United Nations soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing, and between 49,000 and 60,000 Chinese soldiers were killed or wounded.

Aftermath

Don was not among the prisoners of war or identified remains recovered when the Korean War ended on July 27, 1953. He was posthumously awarded the following awards: Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and Republic of Korea War Service Medal. Additionally, he was memorialized in Court 4 of the Honolulu Memorial Courts of the Missing in Honolulu, Hawaii and the National Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Identification

On July 27, 2018, following a US and North Korea joint-summit between President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un the month before, the North Korean government returned 55 boxes of unknown US soldiers to US custody. They arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on August 1, 2018. Scientists at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR), and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis to identify the remains.

Based on these DNA analysis techniques and historical evidence, Don D. Dowler Jr.'s remains were identified on September 23, 2021. The identification was announced on December 21, 2021. By the time of his identification, his parents had died, but his younger sister, Nellie, was still alive in Santa Maria, California. On February 23, 2022, he was buried with full military honors at the Santa Maria Cemtery in Santa Maria.

Sources

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