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Arlington National Cemetery.

Arlington National Cemetery. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)

The remains of a Medal of Honor recipient who died leading his men to safety during the Korean War have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial.

Army Lt. Col. Don Faith Jr. of Washington, Ind., will be buried Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, according to a Defense Department statement.

“He’s been missing for 62 years, and it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing that he’s been found,” Faith’s only child, Barbara “Bobbie” Broyles, told Wednesday.

Broyles, 66, her husband and the couple’s three children will travel to Washington for the funeral, reported.

In late 1950, Faith’s 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, was attached to the 31st Regimental Combat Team advancing along the eastern side of North Korea’s Chosin Reservoir, the DOD statement said. From Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces surrounded the U.S. position and launched a “fanatical attack” in an attempt to overrun them.

Fighting bitter cold and exhaustion, the World War II veteran unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved about directing the action, his Medal of Honor citation reads. When the Chinese broke through their lines, Faith personally led counterattacks to restore the U.S. position.

During the fighting, Faith assumed command of the 31st Regimental Combat Team after his commander went missing, the statement said. The 31st Regimental Combat Team, which came to be known as “Task Force Faith,” was forced to withdraw south along Route 5, fighting to reach a more defensible position with friendly forces in the south.

Faith ran through heavy enemy fire to lead his men in blasting their way through the enemy ring, his citation reads. The column was then pinned down by an enemy roadblock. Faith led a direct assault on the position, and despite being mortally wounded by shrapnel, he directed the attack until it was overrun.

Faith’s body was not recovered at that time. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

“Throughout the 5 days of action Lt. Col. Faith gave no thought to his safety and did not spare himself,” the citation reads. “His presence each time in the position of greatest danger was an inspiration to his men. Also, the damage he personally inflicted firing from his position at the head of his men was of material assistance on several occasions.”

In 2004, a joint U.S. and Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea team surveyed the area where Faith was last seen, the statement said. His remains were located and returned to the U.S. for identification.

Scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence, dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA matching Faith’s brother to identify his remains, the statement said.

More than 7,900 Americans still remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.
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